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Jeff Flake says he called for Kavanaugh FBI probe because Senate is ‘falling apart’

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Jeff Flake
Jeff Flake.
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McNamee/Getty Images


  • Sen. Jeff Flake said his shock move in calling for a
    delay of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation
    vote was because the Senate is “just falling apart.”
  • In an interview published Saturday, Flake said he was
    overwhelmed by the frenzy surrounding the vote and discouraged by
    lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where “there’s no
    trust” across party lines. 
  • Despite his call for the investigation, the Arizona senator
    said he still intends to vote for Kavanaugh “unless they
    turn up something.”

Sen. Jeff Flake said he decided to call for a delay of Supreme Court nominee Brett
Kavanaugh
‘s confirmation vote because the Senate is “just
falling apart.”

In an interview published Saturday in The
Atlanic
, Flake said his refusal to issue a vote on Kavanaugh
without a week-long “pause” for an FBI investigation into the
allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh was a
last-ditch effort to overcome partisan battles that have plagued
the confirmation process.

“The US Senate as an institution—we’re coming apart at the
seams,” the Arizona senator said. “There’s no currency, no market
for reaching across the aisle. It just makes it so difficult.”

Flake, a key Republican swing vote, was the center of attention
on Friday as he conferred with longtime friend and Democratic
Sen. Chris Coons, as well as other Democrats and Republicans on
the Senate Judiciary Committee, before making his surprise
proposal.

After three women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct
against Kavanaugh
, lawmakers disagreed along party lines
about how to proceed. Republicans pushed to move forward with
Kavanaugh’s confirmation after hearing testimony from him and one
of his accusers, the California professor Dr. Christine Blasey
Ford. But Democrats said there had to be an FBI background check
into the claims against Kavanaugh before a final confirmation
vote. They also slammed Republicans for refusing to call other
witnesses to testify.

“We can’t just have the committee acting like this,” Flake said.
“The majority and minority parties and their staffs just don’t
work well together. There’s no trust. In the investigation, they
can’t issue subpoenas like they should. It’s just falling apart.”

Flake said he was overwhelmed by “the hearing itself, the
aftermath of the hearing, watching pundits talk about it on cable
TV, seeing the protesters outside, encountering them in the
hall.” He added that he found an ally in Coons.

“I told Chris, ‘Our country’s coming apart on this — and it
can’t,'” Flake said. “And he felt the same.”

Coons and Flake stepped into the spotlight Friday, both with
impassioned appeals to the committee for an FBI investigation
minutes after two women who say they are sexual assault survivors

cornered Flake in an elevator
 and said that by voting in
favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, he was telling women that
“assault doesn’t matter.”

Flake said their “poignant” accounts came after he and other
lawmakers saw an emotional and widespread response to Ford’s
testimony Thursday. He added
that all those things weighed on him leading up to the Friday
afternoon vote.

Flake had released a statement that morning announcing
that he would vote in favor of moving Kavanaugh’s nomination out
of committee and onto the Senate floor. He told The Atlantic that
despite his call for an investigation, he still intended to
support Kavanaugh, “

unless they turn up something —
and they might.”

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