Sparks flew even before the Senate Judiciary Committee started a hearing to vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for a seat on the Supreme Court, as two women confronted Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator.
“Look at me when I talk to you!” one of the women yelled at the Arizona Republican just minutes after he announced he would vote to confirm the federal judge.
CNN carried footage of the exchange as Flake headed to the hearing.
One of the women said she had been raped. Both of them told Flake his vote would send this message to women: We don’t matter.
“What are you doing, senator?” one of the women yelled at Flake.
After the incident, one of the women who confronted the senator, Ana Maria Archila co-Executive Director of the Center for Popular Democracy and the Center for Popular Democracy Action, released this statement: “Earlier this week, I shared my survivor story for the first time in front of Senator Jeff Flake’s office and I know that I am not alone. Survivors from Arizona and across the country have been flooding his office with their stories. By announcing he will vote ‘yes’ on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, Flake showed us that he does not care about our truths and does not care about women. He claims to support civility, but has proven today that he would rather ignore women’s stories and support a disrespectful sexual abuser than stick to his values.”
As the hearing got under way, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a former Connecticut state attorney general, raised a motion to subpoena Mark Judge. Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford says he helped the nominee corral her in a bedroom at a 1982 house party.
Blumenthal contended his testimony would help corroborate Ford’s version of what happened.
“We have a responsibility to subpoena, at the very least, Mark Judge,” he told Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa. “We cannot in good conscious vote without hearing from Mark Judge.’
The chairman then read a letter from Judge saying he did not remember the incident and had not spoken to Kavanaugh for years. That seemed to be enough for the Republicans, and Blumenthal’s motion was then defeated along party lines, 11-10.
Grassley used an opening statement to say he sees “no reason” to vote down the nomination based on the evidence the committee possesses.
The committee then voted to hold the vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation at 1:30 pm EDT.
Democrats protested when the roll was called to set up the afternoon vote. “No, because it violates the customs of this committee,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, added: “I strongly object, this is just totally ridiculous. What a railroad job. My answer is no, no.”
The chairman contended he has overseen the “most thorough and transparent” confirmation process in U.S. history. Ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., followed and expressed her frustration with that very process.
Feinstein defended herself and her staff from allegations they leaked a confidential letter from Ford, and she criticized panel Republicans for refusing to hear testimony from Kavanaugh’s other three accusers.
Leahy declared the Senate “a very weak arm of the Trump White House,” saying the chamber once was an independent entity. He described the chamber as “Alice In Wonderland.”
Leahy pointed to what Democrats say are Kavanaugh’s false statements to the committee “over and over and over again” during his confirmation hearings for the federal appellate court seat he holds and two days of testimony earlier this month.
Particularly, Leahy zeroed in on the nominee’s role in George W. Bush-era terrorist detention and interrogation programs.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sent a message to President Donald Trump about selecting Kavanaugh: “You did a good job, Mr. President.”
He noted Democrats would have picked someone else to fill the seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. “But did you win the election? No,” Graham said.
Check out more Roll Call coverage of the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing: