North America

Kavanaugh case: Did a run-in with protesters sway Jeff Flake to ask for FBI probe?

0:00

Republican Jeff Flake's decision to call for an FBI probe has raised questions on what prompted his change of heart.

Americans are asking whether a confrontation with two protesters in an elevator persuaded Republican Jeff Flake to call for an FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

During a day of tense circumstances, Senator Jeff Flake was confronted by two protesters moments before he was set to vote on whether to recommend Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

0:00

Mr Kavanaugh is accused by Christine Blasey Ford of sexually assaulting her decades ago. He has repeatedly denied the allegations.

On Friday, Mr Flake was the deciding vote as the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee approved Kavanaugh's nomination and sent it to the full Senate over Democratic opposition.

As he was entering an elevator, hours before his decision, two women confronted him and called for the senator to reconsider.

"What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit on the Supreme Court. This is not tolerable," they were filmed telling Mr Flake.

"You have children in your family. Think about them. I have two children," one of the women, Maria Archila, said.

"I cannot imagine that for the next 50 years they will have to have someone in the Supreme Court who has been accused of violating a young girl. What are you doing, sir?"

"I was sexually assaulted and nobody believed me," the other woman, Maria Galagher said.

"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."

Following the confrontation, Mr Flake - after urgent consultations with colleagues - cast the vote only after asking the Republican-led panel to request that the Trump administration pursue an FBI probe lasting up to seven days of the allegations against Mr Kavanaugh.

Trump, who had previously rebuffed Democratic demands for an FBI probe, granted the request, ordering the "supplemental investigation" to be "limited in scope and completed in less than one week."

Following the development, the question "Did that woman in the elevator save America?" was tweeted by Democratic political advisor Emmy Bengtson.

- With Reuters

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch