U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King. Credit: Andrew Harnik | AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine criticized President Donald Trump on Wednesday for mocking the California professor who alleges that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school.

Collins, who is one of three Republicans who haven’t decided how they will vote on Kavanaugh, helped initiate an FBI investigation into allegations against the judge that’s expected to end on Friday. Senate Republican leaders have said they will quickly proceed to confirm him after that.

She has been under pressure from liberals since Kavanaugh was nominated by the Republican president in July. Collins is a pro-abortion rights Republican and groups who have long counted her as an ally have worried that Kavanaugh could erode abortion rights.

It has only increased since Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at a California university, went public with her allegation that Kavanaugh groped and tried to disrobe her at a party while they were high school students in Maryland. He has denied the allegations and both of them testified before a Senate panel last week.

Trump had been largely restrained on Ford — calling her at one point a “very credible witness” and authorizing the expanded investigation — until a Tuesday rally in Mississippi, where he mocked Ford’s allegations by intimating that the only thing she remembers of the alleged incident is that she “had one beer.”

Collins spoke to reporters in Washington on Wednesday, saying only, “The president’s comments were just plain wrong.” She didn’t answer a question on whether they would affect her vote.

Ford has said she doesn’t remember some details of the attack, but remembers “uproarious laughter” from Kavanaugh and his friend in the room and that she is certain that Kavanaugh attacked her.

King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats and said before allegations emerged against Kavanaugh that he’ll vote against the nominee, told CNN on Wednesday that he watched Trump’s comments a few times and they “made me feel sort of sick.”

He said while he didn’t know how Collins is leaning, he noted that Kavanaugh’s confirmation will likely rest with “an audience of three” — Collins and fellow undecided Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — and that this didn’t help Trump with Collins.

“I don’t think that was a way that would be calculated to win over those three votes,” King said.

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Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...