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Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Kavanaugh: this is about whether we should believe victims of sexual assault

Murkowski is considered one of the Republican swing votes in the Kavanaugh confirmation process.

Senate Lawmakers Speak To The Press After Their Weekly Policy Luncheons
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) emphasizes listening to Kavanaugh’s accusers.
Al Drago/Getty Images

As Republican leaders press on about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s qualifications as a judge, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is seen as one of the key swing votes for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, has a different perspective: This is about whether women who have made accusations of sexual misconduct should be believed.

“We are now in a place where it’s not about whether or not Judge Kavanaugh is qualified,” Murkowski told the New York Times Monday night. “It is about whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed.”

Two women have come forward with allegations against Kavanaugh, both dating back to his high school and college days. Christine Blasey Ford, a Palo Alto University professor said Kavanaugh pinned her down at a party in high school, tried to take off her clothes and force himself on her. Deborah Ramirez, who went to Yale with Kavanaugh, said he exposed himself to her at a party, thrusting his penis in her face. Kavanaugh has denied both allegations aggressively.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the allegations part of a Democratic “smear campaign” calling the allegations “unsubstantiated.” Another top-ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has said he thinks Ford is “mistaken,” and went on to call Ramirez a “phony.”

But Murkowski doesn’t seem so sure. On Tuesday, she told reporters that she sees the merits in an independent FBI investigation into the allegations, something Senate Democrats and the accusers have called for.

“It would sure clear up all the questions, wouldn’t it?” Murkowski said.

President Donald Trump said he sees no need for an independent federal investigation. Republican leaders have said it’s not the FBI’s job to investigate the allegations, and that it wouldn’t add any value to the current process.

Senate Republicans leaders, who, despite allegations, seem adamant about confirming Kavanaugh, control 51 seats in the Senate and can only afford to lose two votes — assuming Democrats remain in lockstep against Kavanaugh.

Murkowski, along with Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Bob Corker (R-TN) are seen as biggest swing votes.