Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) says he intends to support Brett Kavanaugh’s contentious nomination to the Supreme Court — unless the FBI “turn[s] up something” in its investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against the judge.
“I’m a conservative. He’s a conservative. I plan to support him unless they turn up something — and they might,” said Flake. He added that he was particularly interested in hearing more from a high school friend of Kavanaugh’s who has agreed to cooperate with the FBI probe.
That friend, Mark Judge, “sticks out because he was mentioned so much by Dr. Ford, and he might be able to shed some light on her recollection of time and events,” Flake said, referring to Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday about her alleged assault by Kavanaugh when they were teenagers.
Flake’s comments, published in The Atlantic on Saturday, were made shortly after the White House agreed to his surprise call for a delay in the final Senate confirmation vote on Kavanaugh to allow the FBI to conduct an investigation — though one limited in time and scope — into the accusations of sexual assault that have been leveled against the judge.
When asked by The Atlantic about his decision to call for the delay, Flake, one of a handful of swing votes on Kavanaugh’s nomination, said that he’d been feeling “unsettled” about how the judge’s confirmation process had been playing out, especially the partisanship that appeared to be wrenching the Senate “apart at the seams.”
“I don’t know if there was any one thing, but I was just unsettled,” he said. Flake, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said that as Ford and then Kavanaugh testified before the panel on Thursday, “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.”
“The majority and minority parties and their staffs just don’t work well together,” he added. “There’s no trust.”
Flake said he hoped the FBI investigation would help to preserve the credibility of the Supreme Court and the Senate, which he described as “coming apart at the seams.”
On Friday, Flake told reporters that he had very much “wanted to support” Kavanaugh, but he also wanted a “process we can be proud of.”