screengrab from https://youtu.be/s40D43ndwec

While I’m no greater fan of Susan Collins today than I was last month, I’m glad that she did what any person of integrity should have done and treated the allegations made against Brett Kavanaugh as the unsubstantiated and flimsy stuff that they were. I’m also glad she didn’t force Mike Pence to cast the deciding vote, or worse yet, convince Joe Manchin that he did not want to be the vote that gave Pence that notoriety and vote against Kavanaugh. I don’t think she’s a model of conservatives. I don’t think we can trust her. But we do owe her thanks for that vote.

The real question is what comes next.

Collins was on CNN’s State of the Union with Dana Bash and it was pretty obvious that she’s feeling a lot of heat because of her vote and we don’t know whether that heat will add strength to her resolve or melt her.

Here’s how it starts.

BASH: So, let’s talk a little bit more about those allegations. On the Senate floor, you said — quote — “The facts presented do not mean that Professor Ford was not sexually assaulted that night or some other time.”

But, as you remember, Ford was really clear, under oath, under pain of perjury, that she was 100 percent certain that it was Brett Kavanaugh who sexually assaulted her.

So, given the decision you made, do you not believe her?

COLLINS: Let me say this.

First of all, I found Dr. Ford’s testimony to be heart-wrenching, painful, compelling, and I believe that she believes what she testified to. I don’t think she was coming forth with a political opponent, although I do not think that she was treated well by those who breached her confidence.

But we also had case where Judge Kavanaugh came forward and said, I’m 100 percent certain that this did not happen.

So, here you have two people who are each 100 percent certain of what they’re saying under pain of perjury.

So, then I had to look at the other evidence and was there corroborating evidence? And that’s why I pushed hard for the FBI to do a supplemental background investigation.

BASH: So, do you still think that it is possible that he did it; you

just don’t have the proof to back that up?

COLLINS: I do not believe that Brett Kavanaugh was her assailant.

BASH: So…

COLLINS: I do believe that she was assaulted. I don’t know by whom, and I’m not certain when, but I do not believe that he was the assailant.

BASH: So, people watching you, hearing you say that, you understand that they’ll think that you’re saying you don’t believe her, that she — I know you say that she believed that he was, but maybe she was wrong.

But if she said that under oath, that he said that under oath, you made a decision that he said is more valid than what she said.

COLLINS: In this country, we have a presumption of innocence.

And, as a matter of fairness, what I decided to use as a standard was the question of, is it more likely than not that Brett Kavanaugh assaulted Christine Ford? And there was no corroborating evidence that he did so.

Each of the people that Professor Ford said was present that night have testified under oath, both to the committee, through the declarations that they submitted, and to the FBI now that this — that they have no memory of this happening. And that includes Dr. Ford’s best friend.

BASH: So — and I’m sure you heard this from people who have experienced these assaults — that it is possible — and it’s happened before — that the person who is the victim remembers very clearly, because they were assaulted, and especially when you’re talking about 36 years ago, it’s not unusual for people who were apparently at a party as teenagers, they just don’t remember because it was unremarkable.

Is that possible?

COLLINS: I really don’t think that is possible.

When Christine Ford testified that she ran down the stairs and out the door, surely, her best friend who was there would have followed her and asked her what was wrong. Nobody’s come forward to say, I’m the one who gave you a ride home, or I was the other person at the party.

I’m — I’m not saying that she was not sexually assaulted. I believe that she was and that that horrible experience has upended her life.

But it does not mean that Brett Kavanaugh was her assailant.

Bash quick segues to Donald Trump’s Mississippi speech and points out that Trump said basically the same thing about Ford. Bash asks, “What’s — tell me what the difference is.”

COLLINS: Well, I think there’s a big difference.

BASH: Yes.

COLLINS: I felt that the president was not respectful to Dr. Ford.

I had always been respectful toward her. I’m the one who pushed for a hearing where she could, once her identity was compromised, which was a terrible thing, and not what she wanted — but once that happened and she was willing to come forward, I said she should be given a hearing.

BASH: So, it was the president’s tone more than the words?

COLLINS: It was his tone, but also he’s not involved in the advice- and-consent constitutional duties.

So, I believe he should have said nothing.

By the way, note the chyron on the screen in the image at the top of the page. Nice, huh? From there we go to the Planned Parenthood statement about Collins. CNN’s Bash does a real good job of making it clear that Collins is quite possibly a traitor to all women.

BASH: I want to ask you — and you know this because you’re witnessing this happening at your home, at your offices, in Washington and in Maine — women saying that you betrayed women all across the country.

Planned Parenthood gave you an award last November for your work on protecting reproductive rights.

Here’s what their political arm had to say about your vote: “This isn’t just another vote. Senator Collins has made it clear that she can no longer call herself a woman’s rights champion. She has sided with those who disbelieve, disrespect and even mock survivors. We deserve better. Women won’t forget.”

COLLINS: Well, first of all, I had never disregarded, disrespected or mocked survivors. That is just plain untrue.

And I would note that Planned Parenthood opposed three pro-choice justices just because they were nominated by Republican presidents, David Souter, Sandra Day O’Connor and Justice Kennedy. They said the same thing: Women will die.

BASH: Yes.

COLLINS: And this is just outrageous.

I have worked to preserve funding for Planned Parenthood over and over again, and I’m going to continue to do so.

Unlike Graham who will reap political benefits from his transition, I think Collins is running scared. Bash previewed the line of attack she will face in her next campaign. Her face will be morphing into Donald Trump’s. Planned Parenthood’s political arm will be spending lots of money to remind people that she sold out the right to kill babies. It isn’t hard to see her feeling like she has to do something blindingly progressive to appease the angry goddesses she unleashed on Friday.