Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced Friday she will vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, ensuring he will become the court's ninth and newest justice.
Collins, one of a band of four undecided senators, took more than 40 minutes of her Senate speech before ending the suspense. She said: "I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh."
The decision of Collins gave the judge the crucial 50 votes he needed to be confirmed by the whole chamber Saturday — a dramatic, though narrow, victory for President Trump and the Republican Party.
Moments after she spoke, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., the one Democratic holdout, said that he too would support Kavanaugh. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., was also a yes with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the sole Republican holdout.
That leaves Kavanaugh set to be confirmed Saturday by 51 to 49 votes — reflecting the wafer-thin Republican margin and Manchin and Murkowski canceling each other out by each crossing the aisle.
Collins made her announcement in a lengthy and highly-anticipated Senate floor speech, saying that the contentious Kavanaugh confirmation hearings meant that the Senate had reached "rock bottom."
She said that Kavanaugh should be given a "presumption of innocence" despite the claims by Christine Blasey Ford that the judge sexually assaulted her at a party in the Maryland suburbs in the summer of 1982.
The unproven accusations, she said, could not outweigh Kavanaugh's "otherwise exemplary record" as a judge. Although she found Ford's testimony to be "sincere, painful, and compelling," no witnesses could corroborate her story.
She said that "the allegations fail to meet the more-likely-than not standard" he was owed.
Collins said she had carefully reviewed Kavanaugh's 12-year record on the bench and more than 300 opinions as well as speeches and articles before she made her decision. She also spoke to Kavanaugh for two hours in person and an additional hour on the phone.
All eyes had been on Collins for weeks as speculation mounted about how she would vote on Kavanaugh, particularly after last week's testimony by Ford and Kavanaugh himself.