Sexual assault survivors confront Sen. Jeff Flake after he says he will support Kavanaugh
Republican Senator Jeff Flake released a statement Friday morning saying he would vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh, bringing the nominee much closer to sitting on the Supreme Court. But before Flake could get out of the elevator in the Capitol to join the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting where a first vote is scheduled, two women confronted him and tearfully, angrily demanded he answer their questions.
The women could be heard on CNN as Flake stood in the elevator for about five minutes from 9:31 to 9:36 ET.
“You’re telling me my assault doesn’t matter,” said one. “You’re letting people who do these things into power. That’s what you’re telling me when you vote for him. Don’t look away from me,” one woman said through tears.
Flake, looking stricken, nodded his head and looked at her. Another woman began speaking.
“You’re allowing someone who is unwilling to take responsibility for his own actions... you are allowing someone to take responsibility for his own actions to sit in the highest court in the land” she said.
Flake repeatedly thanked the women and said he needed to get to the hearing.
“I need to go to the hearing, I just issued a statement. There have been a lot of questions here,” Flake told reporters.
Check here for a full transcript of the exchange, provided by the New York Times.
Flake’s statement reads:
“After hearing more than 30 hours of testimony from Judge Kavanaugh earlier this month, I was prepared to support his nomination based on his view of the law and his record as a judge. In fact, I commented at the time that had he been nominated in another era, he would have likely received 90+ votes,” Flake wrote.
“When Dr. Ford’s allegations against Judge Kavanaugh surfaced two weeks ago, I insisted that she be allowed to testify before the committee moved to a vote. Yesterday, we heard compelling testimony from Dr. Ford, as well as a persuasive response from Judge Kavanaugh. I wish that I could express the confidence that some of my colleagues have conveyed about what either did or did not happen in the early 1980s, but I left the hearing yesterday with as much doubt as certainty.”
“What I do know is that our system of justice affords a presumption of innocence to the accused, absent corroborating evidence. That is what binds us to the rule of law. While some may argue that a different standard should apply regarding the Senate’s advice and consent responsibilities, I believe that the constitution’s provisions of fairness and due process apply here as well. I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”
Senator Flake declined to speak and left the room while Senators spoke about Kavanaugh and the impending vote, McClatchy’s Kate Irby reported.
Twitter users reacted to the video.
The judicial committee vote comes after a harrowing day-long hearing from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. The hearing had several dramatic moments, from Ford’s painfully raw testimony about her traumatic experience to Kavanaugh’s furious denials and Sen. Lindsay Graham’s angry denunciations that the entire hearing was a “sham.”
Earlier this month, Ford came forward and accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, according to The Washington Post. She says while they were both in high school in 1982, Kavanaugh groped her and tried to rip off her clothes as he pinned her down on a bed.
Since Ford’s accusations, at least two other women have come forward with similar accusations. Julie Swetnick said in a document released by lawyer Michael Avenatti that she was at multiple parties with Kavanaugh where “disoriented” girls were drugged and then raped by a “train” of men, while Deborah Ramirez said in an interview with The New Yorker that the judge exposed his genitals at a party. The accusations are from incidents that were said to have happened in the 1980s.
The judge has denied the claims, saying in a Fox News interview that he has always respected women and was a virgin at the time of the accusations.