Sen. Susan Collins wants the FBI to investigate the allegations brought by Julie Swetnick as part of the agency’s probe of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Collins and Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska “advocated for the additional background investigation because she believed that it could help the senators evaluate the claims that have been brought to the Judiciary Committee,” Collins’ spokeswoman Annie Clark said in a statement to the Press Herald on Monday. “That would include the allegations that were brought by Julie Swetnick.”

Clark said FBI investigators “can determine whom they need to speak with and should follow appropriate leads. Senator Collins was encouraged by the President’s statements that he would give the FBI agents the latitude they need to do their work. It makes sense to start with the four named witnesses from the hearing and then the FBI can follow any leads that it believes need to be pursued, as Senators Flake, Murkowski, and Collins indicated at the time this agreement was made.”

On Thursday, the Senate’s Judiciary Committee held an unusual continuation of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, taking testimony from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has said Kavanaugh held his hand over her mouth and tried to take her clothes off while he held her on a bed during a party the two were both at in the early 1980s, when both were teenagers.

After Ford came forward, two other women also accused Kavanaugh, including Deborah Ramirez, who claimed he exposed himself to her while playing a drinking game at Yale; and Swetnick, who asserted that he attended parties where gang rapes took place. Kavanaugh has denied all of the allegations.

Collins took part in key behind-the-scenes meetings with Flake and Murkowski on Friday, some of them held in her office, that eventually led to a one-week delay on the Senate’s vote on whether to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court so the FBI could investigate Ford’s allegation. On Monday, amid increasing criticism from Democrats over the limited scope of the probe, the White House gave the FBI permission to expand its investigation of Kavanaugh. Numerous media reports Monday night said the scope of the investigation now includes other women who have accused Trump’s nominee of sexual misconduct.

Swetnick was the third woman to make accusations against Kavanaugh, contending that he and classmate Mark Judge drank to excess at parties where high school girls were gang raped in the early 1980s.

Trump and other Republican leaders have tried to discredit Swetnick and her attorney Michael Avenatti, who also represents adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her claims against the president. Avenatti has told various media outlets that the FBI has not contacted Swetnick because Trump told them not to.

Clark would not say whether including Swetnick’s allegations in the investigation meant that the FBI should interview her. She said Collins thinks the FBI should decide who it wants to interview.

Collins believes the FBI should not limit the scope of its investigation of allegations against Kavanaugh that were raised in the Senate’s Judiciary Committee hearings, Clark said, adding that the senator does not believe they should pursue any additional anonymous allegations that have already been discredited.

Collins sent out a tweet indicating her support for the delay on Friday after pressure increased over whether she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh. Her statement Friday came after several other senators who were seen as potential opponents of the nomination had already voiced support for a delay.

On Monday, Clark said that Collins still hadn’t decided how she would vote, but would consider an additional information uncovered by the FBI. Clark also reiterated that the investigation would not determine whether Kavanaugh did any of the things he has been accused of.

“The FBI does not evaluate credibility or reach conclusions,” Clark wrote. “It takes statements from witnesses that are made under penalty of felony. Senator Collins will consider the report from the FBI when evaluating the nomination.”

Clark also said to fully investigate the claims made by Ford, the FBI would have to break from its standard practice of not considering incidents in a person’s background before the age of 18.

“In this case, because of Christine Ford’s allegations, it is necessary to break from that standard practice and interview the potential witnesses she named and follow any additional leads,” Clark said.

Collins’ vote is critical, as the Senate is divided near evenly with 51 Republicans and 47 Democrats, and two independents who largely vote with Democrats. A majority vote would be needed to confirm Kavanaugh to the post, so if Collins and either Flake or Murkowski vote against the nominee Republicans would be unable to advance him to the high court, provided all Democrats vote against Kavanaugh. A tie vote in the Senate of 50-50 would be broken by Vice President Mike Pence, who could be expected to vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

Sen. Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, addressed the Kavanaugh issue during a campaign stop in Portland on Monday. King is seeking reelection this year and faces two challengers, including Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn and Democrat Zak Ringlestein of Falmouth.

King previously said he won’t support the nomination and did so before the sexual assault allegations came to light.

“I think the FBI could do a lot if they’re allowed to and I’ve been disturbed over the last 24 hours to learn that apparently the White House is limiting them,” King said. “I even read an article yesterday that said they are only allowed to talk to four people. I mean, that’s not an investigation. If you talk to four people then you want to probably talk to the three or four people those people mentioned and that’s how you get to the bottom of it.”

“If I were Brett Kavanaugh, I would want the most thorough investigation possible to clear my name, because he says he’s totally innocent of these charges and others.”

Also on Monday a group of about 30 demonstrators showed up at Collins’ Portland office to send messages urging her to vote no. It’s the latest in a series of demonstrations at Collins’ offices. Demonstrators also held a sit-in at her Portland office on Friday.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

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