GOP Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona may not vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh regardless of the outcome of an FBI investigation he demanded last week, according to The Atlantic.
Speaking with Jeffrey Rosen, the president of the Constitution Center, and Democratic Senator Chris Coons at The Atlantic Festival on Tuesday morning, Flake called the judge’s interactions with lawmakers “sharp and partisan.”
“We can’t have that on the Court,” said the Arizona senator, who didn’t elaborate on which interactions he was referring to.
Flake’s “gentleman’s agreement” with Coons, from Delaware, led to the FBI reopening its investigation into Kavanaugh late last week. The bureau is examining the sexual-assault allegations of Christine Blasey Ford, who also testified on Thursday. –The Atlantic
Elaina Plott of The Atlantic caught up with Flake as he left the event and asked him if his comments meant that he would not vote for Kavanaugh, “even if the FBI cleared him by week’s end.”
Flake “appeared rattled, and his handlers rushed him into the stairwell” reports Plott.
“I didn’t say that …” he stammered. “I wasn’t referring to him.”
Meanwhile, Flake has appeared to waffle in recent days over whether or not he will vote to confirm Kavinaugh. In a late Friday night interview with McCay Coppins of The Atlantic, Flake said he remained “unsettled” by the lack of clarity contained within the allegations – and instead pivoted to Democrat Chris Coons’s idea for the FBI investigation.
“If it was anybody else, I wouldn’t have taken it as seriously. But I know Chris. … We trust each other,” said Flake. “And I thought, if we could actually get something like what he was asking for—an investigation limited in time, limited in scope—we could maybe bring a little unity.”
On stage Tuesday morning, Coons and Flake both expressed dismay about the partisan brawling over Supreme Court nominees. Coons called for “reduc[ing] the frequency with which we describe judges as wearing red or blue jerseys.” He argued that senators need to commit to reviving the practice of confirming nominees based on their qualifications, not ideology.
Speaking about politics more broadly, Flake echoed that sentiment: “We’ve got to come to a point again where failure to compromise … is punished at the ballot box, rather than rewarded.”
Is flake the most powerful lame duck politician in Washington right now? On Sunday, he admitted to 60 Minutes that he wouldn’t have thrown the Kavanaugh confirmation into disarray if he was running for office again.
In other words, Flake knows his actions don’t reflect what his Republican constituency would prefer, and he doesn’t care.