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Jeff Flake isn’t going to stop the Kavanaugh nomination

Flake could have spoken up before.

 

David Covucci

Tech

Published Sep 17, 2018   Updated Feb 28, 2020, 3:19 pm CST

Opinion

Over the weekend, the woman at the center of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation went public in a piece in the Washington Post. Christine Blasey Ford said in an interview that Kavanaugh forced himself on her at a high school party and that during the experience she feared for her life.

When the accusation was anonymous on Friday and Saturday, it wasn’t enough to derail a scheduled vote on Kavanaugh in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is planned for this Thursday. But now that Ford has come forward, doubt has been cast that his nomination will proceed as scheduled.

And indeed, last night, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said that he felt the committee vote shouldn’t happen until after Kavanaugh’s accuser was heard by Congress. On Monday, Ford said she would testify.

Without Flake’s vote, the Judiciary Committee, which is split 11-10 along party lines, won’t be able to pass Kavanaugh onto a full Senate vote. A number of other senators have followed Flake’s lead, including Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C), but it’s Flake who is in a position of power right now.

The question is, will he actually use it? Once the senator from Arizona decided against running for re-election this year, he has become a very public foil to President Donald Trump, save for the fact that he hasn’t really done anything to resist the president.

Earlier this summer, he made a public stance about not confirming justices Trump nominated until he got a hearing on the president’s unilateral implementation of tariffs. The second a Supreme Court seat opened, however, he immediately backed away from his bold stance.

And despite being vocal against the GOP tax cut, he went ahead and voted for it. Flake is someone who has voted in lockstep with Trump, despite what his speeches on the Senate floor proclaim. And right now,  the official White House stance—as declared on television by Kellyanne Conaway—is that while Ford should be heard, the confirmation process should not be delayed at all.

One could easily see a situation where Ford is whisked to Washington by Wednesday, tells her story, and the committee votes in Kavanaugh as planned, with Flake saying that he’s glad Kavanaugh’s accuser was allowed to speak, but that he didn’t believe it rose to the level of denying Kavanaugh after a Supreme Court seat.

After all, over the past two weeks, Kavanaugh has been accused of perjuring himself before the Senate, playing dumb about connections to Trump’s personal lawyers, and signaling his intent to overturn Roe v. Wade. Flake, at any point in the hearings, could have come out against Kavanaugh.

Even when this story first came out on Friday, it wasn’t enough to convince Flake to take a stance. It’s only now, with a name and a face and a mounting dismay at Congress for trying to ram through a man who has been accused of assault to a lifetime appointment on the highest court (someone nominated by the person Flake’s supposedly appalled by), that the senator has taken a step back.

Jeff Flake wanted Kavanaugh on the court all along, and you’ll see Thursday that no matter what Ford has to say, Flake’s resistance, as it’s always been, is for show.

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*First Published: Sep 17, 2018, 10:40 am CDT