Jeff Flake Says He Was Moved By ‘Emboldened’ Women, Drive To Make Process ‘Fair’

"I had no idea."

“This country is being ripped apart here, and we’ve got to make sure we do due diligence,” Flake told committee.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s surprise impact Friday changing the course of Brett Kavanaugh’s expected quick confirmation to the Supreme Court was affected by encounters with women “emboldened” to share their experiences and his desire to “demonstrate that the process is fair,” he told reporters Friday.

He said it was “remarkable” how many people who “saw Dr. Ford [testify] were emboldened to come out and say what had happened to them. I heard from friends, close friends. I had no idea,” Flake told reporters. 

Flake referred to his “interactions with a lot of people — on the phone, email, text, walking around the Capitol, you name it.”

Yet Flake issued a statement Friday morning that he wasn’t convinced Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault was enough to deny the Supreme Court nominee a vote.

A short time later Flake was confronted as he entered an elevator by two survivors of sexual assault who challenged him on Kavanaugh in an encounter captured on video that went viral. “What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit on the Supreme Court. This is not tolerable,” one of the woman shouted. 

Flake, who left the elevator ashen-faced and clearly rattled, did not reveal to reporters if that encounter affected his ultimate decision concerning Kavanaugh. But he had already been talking the night before with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia about how to deal with the Kavanaugh accusations without rejecting his confirmation outright, sources told Politico. They had the power to block Kavanaugh’s confirmation on the Senate floor. 

Flake told reporters that his morning statement was a bid to keep Republicans calm about where he stood and not worry that he was going to bolt from their ranks. “I hoped that would help provide leverage,” Flake said.

But he was also determined to demonstrate “that the process is fair, even if Democrats are “not going to vote for” Kavanaugh, he added, Politico reported.

He reached out Friday to Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who’s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and discussions began. After lining up support, Flake called for an FBI investigation into the accusations against Kavanaugh before the Judiciary Committee. He made clear that his vote on the floor of the Senate depended on such a probe of “not more” than a week.

 “This country is being ripped apart here, and we’ve got to make sure we do due diligence,” he told the committee.

“I wanted to support” Kavanaugh, Flake told reporters later. “I’m a conservative, he’s a conservative judge. But I want a process we can be proud of, and I think the county needs to be behind it.”

Trump On Kavanaugh: ‘Con Job’ To ‘Senate Must Vote’ To ‘Credible Witness’ In 48 Hours

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The president tones down the urgency to confirm his Supreme Court nominee after GOP Sen. Jeff Flake’s demand for an FBI investigation.

Two days after deriding a sexual assault accusation against his Supreme Court nominee as a “con job” and a day after demanding “the Senate must vote” on the judge’s confirmation, President Donald Trump appeared downright subdued Friday after Senate leaders agreed to seek an FBI investigation of the allegation.

“I don’t know if this is going to continue onward or are we going to get a vote,” Trump said in a photo opportunity at the White House.

Trump said he had only just learned about an agreement Senate Republican leaders reached with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to put off a confirmation vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh until the FBI can look into “credible” sexual misconduct allegations against him.

He said he would not try to pressure other Republican senators, including Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins, into voting for Kavanaugh. “They have to do what they think is right. They have to be comfortable with themselves,” Trump said.

Hours later, the White House released a statement from Trump honoring the Senate’s request: “I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file. As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”

Kavanaugh said in a statement released through the White House that he would cooperate: “Throughout this process, I’ve been interviewed by the FBI, I’ve done a number of ‘background’ calls directly with the Senate, and yesterday, I answered questions under oath about every topic the senators and their counsel asked me. I’ve done everything they have requested and will continue to cooperate.”

The words and tone were a dramatic turn from Trump’s stance at a Wednesday news conference during his visit to the United Nations General Assembly. There, he discounted the accusation as politically motivated. “Con job. It is. It’s a con job. You know, confidence. It’s a confidence job. But they ― it’s a con job by the Democrats. They know it,” he said.

And Thursday, following Kavanaugh’s angry performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, when he also claimed the accusations were part of a left-wing conspiracy to keep him off the high court, Trump tweeted his praise.

“Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting. Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!” Trump wrote.

On Friday, after Flake’s announcement that he would not feel comfortable with a floor vote until an FBI investigation had been conducted, Trump claimed that he, too, found the testimony of Kavanaugh’s accuser, professor Christine Blasey Ford, moving.

“I thought her testimony was very compelling, and she looks like a very fine woman to me. A very fine woman,” Trump said. “Certainly she was a very credible witness. She was very good in many respects.”

I thought her testimony was very compelling, and she looks like a very fine woman to me. A very fine woman.President Donald Trump on Christine Blasey Ford

Blasey, now a research psychologist in California, testified that Kavanaugh and a friend of his had trapped her in a bedroom at a small gathering 36 years ago. She said Kavanaugh held her down, covered her mouth with his hand and tried to remove her clothes as he and his friend laughed. Kavanaugh has denied even being at the house with her and said he has never sexually assaulted anyone. Since she came forward, two other women have leveled accusations against him.

Many Republicans, including senators on the Judiciary Committee, have said they believe Blasey was attacked but that she must have been mistaken about the identity.

“Clearly she’s been through something awful,” Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said Friday.

“I feel sorry for her, and I do believe something happened to her,” said South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham. “But I don’t believe it was Brett Kavanaugh.”



American Bar Association: Delay Kavanaugh Confirmation Vote Until FBI Investigates

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“Each appointment to our nation’s Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote,” the lawyers’ group says.

The American Bar Association late Thursday called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to delay a confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until an FBI investigation can be completed into several claims of sexual misconduct.

“We make this request because of the ABA’s respect for the rule of law and due process under law,” reads the letter, a copy of which was obtained by HuffPost. “The basic principles that underscore the Senate’s constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI.”

The move is extraordinary in that the ABA gave Kavanaugh a unanimous “well-qualified” rating for the Supreme Court nomination, and the federal judge has boasted that he was “thoroughly vetted” by the lawyers’ group.

The letter, signed by ABA President Robert Carlson, came just hours after Kavanaugh testified before the judiciary panel in light of recent allegations that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford at a gathering when they were both teenagers in the 1980s. Blasey, who also spoke on Thursday, claimed that a young Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, attempted to take off her clothes and put his hand over her mouth to the point that she thought he was “accidentally going to kill” her.

Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegation, telling lawmakers on Thursday that the claim, alongside those of two other women, were “a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election.”

Republican members of the judiciary commitee said they still planned to move forward with a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation Friday morning. After the tally, the nomination will move to a procedural vote in the full Senate on Saturday, although it’s unclear if the judge has the 50 votes needed to open debate on his confirmation on the chamber floor.

The ABA signaled in its letter that the nomination process was being rushed through without an appropriate investigation, effectively siding with Democrats who have called for the Justice Department to look into Blasey’s claims. 

“Each appointment to our nation’s Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote,” the letter, shown above, says. “Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court.”

It concludes: “It must remain an institution that will reliably follow the law and not politics.”





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