Flake: Elevator confrontation showed me Kavanaugh debate ‘tearing the country apart'

Flake: Elevator confrontation showed me Kavanaugh debate ‘tearing the country apart'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) on Sunday said his confrontation last week in an elevator with a sexual assault victim helped show him that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation process was "tearing the country apart."

Flake, who following that confrontation called for a one-week delay in a Senate floor vote on Kavanaugh, said on CBS's "60 Minutes" that he didn't expect "what happened on Friday to happen."

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"I just knew that we couldn’t move forward, that I couldn’t move forward without hitting the pause button. Because, what I was seeing, experiencing, in an elevator and watching it in committee and just thinking, this is tearing the country apart," he said.

Shortly before the encounter in the elevator on Friday, Flake had announced he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh despite allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against the nominee.

Protesters, including one who said she was a sexual assault victim, approached Flake as he was on his way to a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Kavanaugh.

“I didn’t tell anyone and you’re telling all women that they don’t matter, that they should just stay quiet because if they tell you what happened to them you are going to ignore them,” the woman said to Flake, who was standing in the corner of the elevator. The video of the confrontation quickly went viral.

Flake said on "60 Minutes" that he had a "palpable feeling that this was history and she was compelling."

After the confrontation, Flake voted in the committee to confirm Kavanaugh, but called for the FBI to investigate the sexual assault allegations made against the nominee, saying he thought it "would be proper" to delay the floor vote for a week. 

Flake and Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenate committee approves 0 million for state election security efforts Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity Bill to return B in unredeemed bonds advances MORE (D-Del.) said during the interview that Kavanaugh's nomination would be "over" if it emerges that he lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee.