Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, walks past members of the media as she arrives at her office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was among the small group of Republican senators Monday who called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing on a sexual assault accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Hours later, the White House announced that a hearing will be held next Monday.

“Professor (Christine Blasey) Ford and Judge Kavanaugh should both testify under oath before the Judiciary Committee,” Collins wrote in a tweet Monday afternoon before the White House announcement.

Ford’s accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party in the early 1980s threatens his chances of being confirmed to the nation’s highest court. And with the Republicans holding a slim two-vote majority in the Senate, Collins already had been among the senators seen as a possible swing votes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation. She has faced intense pressure from both sides while maintaining she had not yet decided how to vote.

Collins did not respond to requests for comment Monday. However, in a hallway interview in Congress carried live by CNN on Monday afternoon, Collins told reporters that “to be fair to both sides” there needs to be a hearing.

“Obviously, if Judge Kavanaugh lied about what happened, that would be disqualifying,” Collins said as she was surrounded by reporters and microphones.

Collins said Kavanaugh “emphatically” denied the accusation when she asked him about it during a phone call Friday. The call came after a general outline of the allegations had surfaced, but before Ford was named and quoted in a Washington Post story, and before she agreed to testify.

Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, had originally wanted to remain anonymous but will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, as will Kavanaugh. Ford, in a Washington Post story on Sunday, accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party while they were in high school in the early 1980s.

Ford has supported her account with a therapist’s notes from 2012 and her husband’s statement to The Washington Post that she had told him about the assault when they were in couples therapy. She also has passed a lie-detector test.

Kavanaugh denies the allegations, calling them “completely false.”

“I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or anyone,” Kavanaugh said in a statement.

Democrats have been solidly opposed to the nomination and quickly called for a full hearing and a delay in the nomination process. So has U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats.

But Collins was one of a few Republican senators to publicly call for or suggest a delay. The others included Jeff Flake or Arizona, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate, so it would only take two Republican “no” votes to sink Kavanaugh’s nomination, assuming all Democrats and independents vote against him.

Even before the sexual assault allegation surfaced, Kavanaugh was a controversial nominee who could tip the balance of the court to the right. He would replace Anthony Kennedy, who has been a centrist swing vote on a court with four more liberal justices and four more conservative members.

Collins was under pressure by progressives who fear, among other things, that Kavanaugh would weaken or overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that made abortion legal in all states.

Marie Follayttar Smith, of Mainers for Accountable Leadership, a liberal activist group that has lobbied Collins to vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, said that in light of the sexual assault allegations against the nominee the Maine Republican needs to do more than just join the call for a hearing.

“She responded in her traditional and deliberative way,” Follayttar Smith said. “She should be showing more support for Christine Ford.”

Follayttar Smith said the accusation reaffirms what the group sees as a consistent pattern by Kavanaugh, who they say has ruled against women’s interests.

“We expect Senator Collins to protect Maine women,” Follayttar Smith said.

Collins has previously been outspoken about sexual assault accusations against politicians. In November 2017, she called for Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama to withdraw from the election after several accusations of sexual misconduct of teenagers emerged, mostly dating to the late 1970s.

“If there is any truth at all to these horrific allegations, Roy Moore should immediately step aside as a Senate candidate,” Collins said in a November 2017 tweet. Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones in a December special election.

Meanwhile, President Trump told reporters on Monday that he stands behind Kavanaugh, but that if “it takes a little delay, it’ll take a little delay.”

“I’m sure it will work out very well,” Trump said.

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