The key Republican senator Jeff Flake has declared that if the FBI corroborates allegations of attempted rape against the supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh it would disqualify him from the bench, after Kavanaugh vehemently denied any sexual misconduct in testimony to the Senate last week.
Touring parts of New England, in what is seen as a test of the waters for a possible run for president, Flake said at an event on Monday night in relation to the sexual allegations against Kavanaugh: “Any nominee who lies to the committee, that is disqualifying.”
Kavanaugh has been accused of attacking Christine Blasey Ford, now a university professor, at a party in high school, when he was 17 and she 15. The two gave emotional but differing accounts in testimony on Capitol Hill last Thursday, in a hearing before the Senate judiciary committee that gripped the nation.
On Friday, Flake, a member of the committee, voted to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination but only if the FBI investigated allegations against the judge. Two other women have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, amid a hard-drinking party culture in his circle of friends at high school and when he attended Yale.
On Monday afternoon, at an event in Boston, Flake said he wanted the FBI to make sure any “current, credible allegation” against Kavanaugh was “fully investigated.”
On Monday evening, at an event in Manchester, New Hampshire, Flake toughened his stance and indicated that corroboration would mean curtains for Kavanaugh’s chances of sitting on America’s highest court He said: “If there’s evidence that comes back that corroborates Christine Ford’s story, then all of us will look at it that way.”
His comments came just hours after more than 1,500 protesters, including the progressive congressional candidates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Boston, and Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon, called for Flake to vote “no” on Kavanaugh’s confirmation if he reaches a full Senate vote.
Flake told a crowd of young entrepreneurs attending a Forbesbusiness summit that his staff is in contact with White House counsel to make sure the investigation into accusations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh is “up to standard”.
Despite White House assurances of an unrestricted investigation, there have been complaints about limited time and scope for the FBI to investigate allegations by Ford that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her in high school, and allegations by two other women of sexual misconduct.
“We ought to have more information, not less,” he said. He called Ford’s testimony before the Senate judiciary committee last Thursday “compelling and credible”.
He then called Kavanaugh’s furious rebuttal “an impassioned, raw defense”. That drew boos from the audience on Monday, some holding signs condemning the nominee.
Flake was pivotal in voting last Friday for the nomination to go forward to the next stage. But after being confronted in an elevator by two female protesters on Capitol Hill and consulting Democrats on the committee, Flake said advancement was on condition that the FBI investigate the allegations for a week. The White House agreed.
Flake said on Monday that his decision to announce the caveat of an FBI investigation stemmed from the fact that there “were lots of doubts, still” following the hearing.
In addition to the elevator incident, he added that Ford’s testimony had emboldened “a lot of women to come forward”, and that he has received many calls and emails from women that he “never thought he would hear from”.
Many women on Monday gave their own testimony on the city hall steps in Boston before the Forbes event, some holding signs that read “I Believe Her” and “Kava Nope”.
Assault survivor Delia Harrington said she was a teenager at a party when her attack happened, “when someone decided they were more entitled to my body than I was”. Harrington said she spent the next decade trying to figure out how to cope with the trauma. She told the crowd: “Dr Ford is not a scared teenager any more, and neither am I.”
Pressley, a Boston city councilor and congressional candidate, also spoke to the crowd, as the survivor of rape during her studies at Boston University, saying: “I am angry. I am outraged because this is outrageous.” Cheers were so loud they drowned her out. She said of last week’s hearings: “There were men in positions of power, of privilege and prestige who described those proceedings as a disgrace to our nation, when the real disgrace is a tolerance of rape culture.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said at the event: “Sexual assault is about the abuse of power … that is why a man believes that an elite education, a high income and his rich friends can get away with sexual assault.”
Emerson College students Annie Noel and Erin Swauger had organized the rally on Monday morning in response to Flake’s panel event being moved from an Emerson-owned venue on Friday. College president Lee Pelton canceled that event “for safety reasons” and it was moved to the city hall plaza.
Noel, 19, said she had experienced a sexual assault at the hands of “people that I knew and that I trusted”. She recounted the unpleasant experience of then dealing with the Boston police department, “which made me repeat my story to seven different officers, all men”.
This article provided by NewsEdge.