Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said Sunday that Brett Kavanaugh’s fiery opening statement at Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing made him sound like a man who had been “unjustly accused” of sexual misconduct.
However, Flake also told CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that some of Kavanaugh’s exchanges with Democratic members of the committee were “a little too sharp.”
Flake was one of six members of the judiciary committee who appeared on “60 Minutes” Sunday, along with Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del.; Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and John Kennedy, R-La. They spoke three days after Kavanaugh and one of his accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, gave conflicting accounts about Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during a party while they were in high school outside Washington D.C., in the early 1980s.
At one point, an emotional Kavanaugh called the confirmation process “a national disgrace” and said the furor had “destroyed my family and my good name.”
“When I heard him, I heard someone who I hope I would sound like, if I had been unjustly accused,” Flake said. “If I was unjustly accused, that’s how I would feel, as well.”
But Coons said Kavanaugh’s emotional opening statement and sharp exchanges with Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., “went over a line” and made him wonder about the judge’s suitability.
Flake, who is leaving the Senate after November’s midterm election, requested that the FBI review allegations against Kavanaugh after he and other Republicans on the panel voted along strict party lines in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation. Flake, whose request was supported by fellow Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – as well as Democrats Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp – made the request as a condition of his own “yes” vote.
When Flake was asked if he would have requested the FBI investigation if he was running for re-election this year, he answered: “Not a chance.”
“There’s no value to reaching across the aisle,” Flake said. “There’s no currency for that anymore. There’s no incentive.”
When asked about Ford’s testimony, Kennedy said he believed Kavanaugh’s accuser was “sincere,” but questioned what a further FBI review would accomplish.
“Nobody is gonna figure out what happened. They’re not,” Kennedy said. “Something happened to her and something very bad happened and I am very sorry. But they both said 100 percent. She said it happened. Judge Kavanagh said it didn’t, 100 percent, so what do you do?”
Flake agreed that Ford “certainly believes she experienced something, was it Brett Kavanaugh? He says, ‘I’m sure she experienced something but it wasn’t me.’”
Flake and Coons also differed with Kennedy on the value of the supplemental FBI probe, which must wrap up by this Friday.
“I think we will be in a different place [by then],” said Coons. “Because lots of survivors around the country will feel that Dr. Ford’s story was heard and respected and further investigated. We may well be in a different place a week from now because Judge Kavanaugh and his family may well have had exculpatory evidence brought forward.”