Protester who confronted Flake in elevator: He’s 'torn between his conscience and his party'
© Greg Nash

One of the protesters who confronted Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeOil companies join blitz for carbon tax The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget Jeff Daniels blasts 'cowardice' of Senate Republicans against Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) in front of an elevator before a vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination wrote in a New York Times opinion piece Thursday that in Flake she saw a "man ... torn between his conscience and his party."

Maria Gallagher, a recent college graduate, wrote in the op-ed that she is disappointed that support for Kavanaugh falls along partisan lines.


"The question of whether to support a Supreme Court nominee who has been accused of sexual assault should not be partisan," she wrote.

But she claimed that Flake's demeanor in the elevator made it clear that his mind was not set on voting "yes."

"If Mr. Flake had been confident in his decision to vote yes on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, he would have looked me in the face, point blank and explained why he was going to do what he believed in," she wrote.

"What his refusal to look at me told me was that even though his actions were going to affect women, he didn’t want to confront them."

Flake had announced his intention to approve Kavanaugh's passage through the Senate Judiciary Committee on the morning on Sept. 28, but after being confronted by Gallagher and another woman, Ana Maria Archila, and speaking with colleagues across the aisle, he made his floor vote conditional on an FBI investigation.

The protesters were seeking to disrupt the vote following Christine Blasey Ford's testimony before the committee. Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party while the two were in high school in the 1980s.

"This is about the treatment of survivors," Gallagher wrote. "It is about telling us that what happens to us matters. That our traumas are not something to be ignored but are to be believed and investigated. Fully investigated."

Gallagher is one of many protesters who have confronted senators over the last week. Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) was confronted at the airport. Sens. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Threat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Chances for disaster aid deal slip amid immigration fight MORE (R-Ky) and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerJeff Daniels blasts 'cowardice' of Senate Republicans against Trump Corker: 'I just don't' see path to challenge Trump in 2020 Ex-GOP Sen. Corker: Trump primary would be 'good thing for our country' MORE (R-Tenn.) experienced similar protests. Several of the confrontations were coordinated by a progressive group, the Center for Popular Democracy, of which Archila, who confronted Flake in the elevator along with Gallagher, is a member.

Flake is expected to vote in favor of confirming Kavanaugh in a full Senate vote over the weekend.