Update 1:10 p.m. | Protesters started gathering Monday morning ahead of an appearance by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who gave those opposed to Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court a one-week reprieve.
Among the protesters were upstart Democratic congressional candidates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who shocked incumbent Democrat Joe Crowley in the primary for his New York district, and Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, who upset 10-term incumbent Massachusetts Rep. Michael Capuano.
Ocasio-Cortez called sexual assault an “abuse of power” by powerful men.
“It is [targeted at] the young, it is the interns, it is the immigrants, it is the trans,” Ocasio-Cortez said, the Boston Globe reported.
Pressley, a sexual assault victim, said she had been advised to avoid coming across as an “angry black woman” on the campaign trail.
“Well, I am angry,” she said, according to the Globe. “And I am outraged. Because this is outrageous!”
Flake was scheduled to speak in Boston at the Forbes Under 30 Summit before heading to St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, for another speech.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was also among the protesters in Boston.
“This moment in time will mark how we, as a country, respond to the call for action from women and individuals who have bravely spoken out about sexual assault,” Walsh told the Globe. “We believe survivors and we want to make their voices heard, from Boston to Washington, and all across America.”
Flake, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is widely seen as a pivotal player in Kavanaugh’s confirmation proceedings. He negotiated forestalling the final floor vote for a week so that the FBI can conduct a truncated probe into allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted women when he was in high school and college.
Senators on the Judiciary panel questioned Kavanaugh and one of his accusers, California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, on Thursday.
On a party-line vote Friday afternoon, the Judiciary Committee voted to move Kavanaugh’s nomination onto the full Senate, but Flake assented to that only if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to freeze the vote while the FBI conducts a one-week investigation into the claims of assault levied against Kavanaugh.
Flake had signaled in a statement earlier Friday he would support Kavanaugh’s confirmation. But he was approached by two sexual assault victims in an elevator in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on his way to the Judiciary Committee vote who pleaded with him not to move Kavanaugh’s confirmation along.
That helped inform his decision to stall the final vote.
“I just knew that we couldn’t move forward, that I couldn’t move forward without hitting the pause button,” Flake said in a “60 Minutes” interview with Sen. Chris Coons aired Sunday night.
“People felt very strongly about the hearings and what was going on,” Flake said about the encounter with the two women, who he said “were clearly passionate and determined that I hear them.”
Coons, the centrist Delaware Democrat who negotiated the terms of the stalled confirmation vote with Flake, called his colleague a “hero” for keeping an open mind throughout the process.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation ultimately hinges on what the FBI turns up in its investigation, which the White House has given a narrow scope, according to multiple media outlets.
If the Supreme Court nominee is shown to have lied during his testimony, Coons and Flake both indicated his nomination would be over in their eyes.
“Oh, yes. I would think so,” they said at the closing of the 60 Minutes interview.
Graham on Flake Maneuver: Jeff’s Trying His Best to Bring the Country Together