Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) continued to question Brett Kavanaugh’s fitness for the Supreme Court on Tuesday, expressing concern over his temperament exhibited during last Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
During a joint appearance with friend and colleague Chris Coons (D-DE) at The Atlantic Festival in Washington, D.C., Flake said he was “very troubled” by the tone of Kavanaugh’s lengthy, outraged opening statement.
“I hope I would sound that indignant if I was unjustly maligned,” he said, “but then it went on.”
“And the interaction with the members was sharp and partisan and that concerns me,” Flake continued.
While he was willing to give Kavanaugh “a little leeway” based on “what he’s been through,” he said, “on the other hand, we can’t have this on the court, we simply can’t.”
Those comments from Flake are just the latest indication that he could be willing to vote no on Kavanaugh’s confirmation regardless on what the FBI uncovers in its investigation this week.
During a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday, Flake similarly said that if Kavanaugh “lied on particular things that is demonstrable, then that is disqualifying.”
“I think all of us were troubled by that time, that partisan rhetoric. But you give a little leeway,” Flake added during the event at Saint Anselm College. “We don’t want to politicize the court... We’ve got to get away from that.”
Flake played a pivotal role in delaying Kavanaugh’s confirmation process in order for the FBI to further investigate the sexual-assault allegation leveled against the nominee by Christine Blasey Ford, who also testified before the judiciary committee last week.
After initially saying he would vote “Yes” on the nominee—despite finding Ford’s testimony to be “compelling”—the senator agreed to vote Kavanaugh out of committee only with assurances that the FBI would reopen its background check of the jurist. He reportedly came to that decision after he was confronted by multiple sexual-assault survivors in a Capitol Hill elevator before the committee vote was set to take place.
In a dramatic moment in the committee room last week, just moments before the vote, Flake told his colleagues: “I have been speaking with a number of people on the other side. We had conversations ongoing for a while to making sure that we do due diligence here.”
He added: “I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to but not more than one week in order to let the FBI continue to do an investigation, limited in time and scope to the current allegations that are there and limit in time to no more than one week.”
At the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston this week, Flake said the FBI’s inquiry needs to be a “real investigation.”
“It does us no good to have an investigation that just gives us more cover,” he said.