Sen. Jeff Flake will support Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, securing a critical vote for his confirmation only hours after harrowing testimony about a sexual assault accusation against the appeals judge.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote on whether to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination on Friday afternoon. Flake, an Arizona Republican who will retire in January, entered Friday as the panel’s only undecided GOP member. The panel is now expected to sign off on Kavanaugh’s nomination by a party line 11-10 vote.
On Thursday, college professor Christine Blasey Ford emotionally accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were high school students in the early 1980s. The judge angrily denied the allegation later in the day.
Flake’s support gives a major boon to Kavanaugh, as it leaves only two Republican senators who have not supported the judge.
“Yesterday, we heard compelling testimony from Dr. Ford, as well as a persuasive response from Judge Kavanaugh,” Flake said in a statement Friday. “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.”
He continued: “What I do know is that our system of justice affords a presumption of innocence to the accused, absent corroborating evidence. That is what binds us to the rule of law. 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. I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”
Ahead of a committee meeting Friday morning, women who say they were sexually assaulted confronted him as he stood in a Capitol elevator. The exchange was captured by CNN.