Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has announced he will vote to confirm embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in a statement released Friday morning.
Flake’s statement made clear he was not swayed by the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when the two were high school students. Both Ford and Kavanaugh testified before the Senate on Thursday, with Kavanaugh emphatically and angrily denying Ford’s account was true.
“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,” Flake said in his statement. “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.”
Flake continued by saying that his belief that the American justice system is based on someone being innocent until proven guilty, and that he did not see corroborating evidence to support Ford’s claims. It’s worth noting that Thursday’s hearing was not a criminal proceeding.
“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,” Flake concluded. “I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”
Flake, a perennial critic of President Donald Trump, was expected to be one of the key swing votes on Kavanaugh’s nomination, along with Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Collins and Murkowski have not yet announced how they will vote.
Flake is moving ahead with a “yes” vote despite his previous statements
Flake’s “yes” vote is a notable contrast from just a week ago, when Ford went public with her allegations, Flake sounded much more sympathetic to her and skeptical about confirming Kavanaugh. He, along with Murkowski and Collins, called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to delay its vote recommending Kavanaugh and allow Ford to testify.
On Tuesday, Flake told reporters, “Obviously, if you believe the charges are true, then you vote no.”
Then during floor remarks on Wednesday, he appeared to suggest that he was planning to weigh Ford’s and Kavanaugh’s testimonies before deciding how he’ll vote.
“I will have to listen to the testimony before I make up my mind about the testimony,” he said. “I hope that tomorrow’s hearing gives us some guidance on how we are to vote.”
Flake said he was moved by Ford’s testimony. But he did not believe it — and he notably hasn’t called for an FBI investigation to thoroughly vet Ford’s allegations before putting Kavanaugh up for a vote.
As Vox’s Tara Golshan and Li Zhou recently wrote, “Flake has worked to establish himself as having a moral high ground in the age of Trump, announcing his retirement with a scathing speech denouncing Trump’s ethics.”
Time and time again, Flake has made a show of taking the moral high ground while still voting with the aims of the Trump administration. His announcement of his vote to confirm Kavanaugh is no different.