Susan Collins reveals critics' personal attacks over Kavanaugh vote, in Fox News interview

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has revealed that the abuse she and her staff suffered over her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court "was unlike anything I've seen in all the years that I've been privileged to serve in the Senate."

"There were protests at my home for six weeks in a row, protests at my home here in Washington, death threats, threats of sexual assault against me and my staff," Collins told Fox News' Martha MacCallum in an exclusive interview that aired Thursday evening on "The Story." "But, what I'll never understand is why anyone would think that I would be intimidated by those tactics and that they would be successful in converting me or causing me to vote against Judge Kavanaugh."

Collins provided the crucial "yea" vote for Kavanaugh's confirmation, explaining her reasoning in an Oct. 5 Senate floor speech that climaxed a weeks-long battle centering on sexual-assault allegations against the federal judge dating from his high school days. At the time, Collins cited "the lack of corroborating evidence" of the claims against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford.

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"The Senate confirmation process is not a trial, but there are certain standards we have to abide by," Collins said, "and if we were going to throw overboard the presumption of innocence despite the complete lack of corroborating evidence even from Dr. Ford's best friend, and if we were going to dispense with fairness, the rule of law and due process, I really feared for what our country would become and whether anyone would be willing to put their name forth for public service? Who would go through that?"

Before, during and after the vote, Collins and her staff received threatening messages from opponents of Kavanaugh, some of which were shared with Fox News. At one point, Collins said, a young staffer "who deals with Social Security problems and the VA and immigration answered a call in which the man told her that if I voted yes for Justice Kavanaugh that he hoped she would be raped and impregnated."

Collins added that the staffer quit working for her because "she just could not take the tremendous abuse that was heaped upon [her]."

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On another occasion, Collins said she was confronted outside her Washington, D.C. home by a man who shone a flashlight in her eyes and began recording her with a camcorder.

"The only funny thing about it, when I finally said to him – because I’m frantically trying to unlock my door – and I said: ‘You stop harassing me and by the way, what’s your name?’ And he gave me his name," Collins said.

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Collins' Kavanaugh vote has made her a target for Democrats who hope to flip her seat in 2020. She told MacCallum she'd made peace with the idea that her decision could cost her a fifth Senate term.

"The easier vote politically clearly would have been for me to vote 'no,'" she said. "But, that would not have been the right vote and I have to live with myself and I want to be able to look in the mirror in the morning and know that I did what I felt was right, no matter what the consequences may be ... I really won’t ever be intimidated. I have to do what I think is right and I’ll let the chips fall where they may."

Fox News' Martha MacCallum contributed to this report.