Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), the GOP swing vote member who voted in favor of moving Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination to the Senate floor during Friday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and also called to delay the full Senate vote in order to conduct an FBI investigation, is explaining himself. On September 27, Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, both shared their sides of the story. Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a high school gathering in the early 1980s, and Kavanaugh denied it ever happened. Friday morning, the day after the hearing, Flake announced his support for moving Kavanaugh‘s nomination forward due to the fact that there was a lack of corroborating evidence. However, the senator remained unsure. “I was just unsettled,” Flake told McKay Coppins of The Atlantic. Flake’s last-minute call to delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation for an FBI investigation made some senators unhappy.
Watch the video below:
JUST IN: Sen. Jeff Flake calls for delaying floor vote on Brett Kavanaugh “for up to and not more than one week” to allow FBI conduct an investigation. https://t.co/iKsKxRUq9t pic.twitter.com/rSi8qES3Ht
— ABC News (@ABC) September 28, 2018
On Friday evening, Flake met with Coppins to explain why he had the last-minute change of mind. “I told [Sen. Chris Coons (D-Conn.)], ‘Our country’s coming apart on this — and it can’t.’ And he felt the same,” Flake said about his thoughts on the confirmation hearings and the way the committee was acting. Read part of the interview below:
FLAKE: I don’t know if there was any one thing, but I was just unsettled. You know, when I got back to the committee, I saw the food fight again between the parties — the Democrats saying they’re going to walk out, the Republicans blaming everything on the Democrats. […] We can’t just have the committee acting like this. The majority and minority parties and their staffs just don’t work well together. There’s no trust. In the investigation, they can’t issue subpoenas like they should. It’s just falling apart. COPPINS: So, you were motivated mainly by preserving institutional credibility? FLAKE: Two institutions, really. One, the Supreme Court is the lone institution where most Americans still have some faith. And then the U.S. Senate as an institution — we’re coming apart at the seams. There’s no currency, no market for reaching across the aisle. It just makes it so difficult. Just these last couple of days — the hearing itself, the aftermath of the hearing, watching pundits talk about it on cable TV, seeing the protesters outside, encountering them in the hall. I told Chris, “Our country’s coming apart on this — and it can’t.” And he felt the same.
Flake then discussed what his thoughts were when female protestors confronted him sharing their stories and stopping him on the elevator as he was heading to the hearing.
Watch the video below:
Women confront Sen. Jeff Flake after he says he’ll vote yes to Kavanuagh: “That’s what you’re telling all women in America, that they don’t matter. They should just keep it to themselves because if they have told the truth you’re just going to help that man to power anyway.” pic.twitter.com/T7fSpyT69E
— CNN (@CNN) September 28, 2018
“Obviously, it’s an uncomfortable situation. But it was — you know, you feel for them. It was poignant. I mean, keep in mind, their agenda may be different than mine. I think some of their concern was how Kavanaugh would rule on the court. They may have been there prior to the allegations against him because of his position on some issues. But it certainly struck a chord.”
Ahead of the committee vote, former President George W. Bush reportedly reached out to some of the senators, including Flake.
COPPINS: You talked earlier about the crisis of authority facing American institutions. Do you worry that confirming Kavanaugh with these allegations hanging over him will do some damage to the long-term credibility of the Supreme Court? FLAKE: Obviously. I’ve felt that this delay is as much to help him as us. My hope is that some Democrats will say, “Hey, we may not change our vote, but this process was worthy of the institution, and we feel satisfied.” That means something. The country needs to hear that.
Flake said during the interview that he plans to vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court during the full Senate vote unless something shows up from the FBI investigations. President Donald Trump announced the start of the FBI investigation on Friday evening while also praising Kavanaugh as one day being a “truly great Justice.”