Sen. Jeff Flake’s, R-Ariz., announcement Friday that he would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court triggered an angry backlash from Democrats and activists, as it appeared to bring the judge one step closer to sitting on the nation’s highest court.
Flake had been undecided, and has publicly agonized over the toxicity of this confirmation process and modern-day politics in Washington. With Flake’s “yes,” 48 Republicans have pledged to vote for Kavanaugh; he needs a simple majority to be confirmed.
Democrats had hoped that testimony Thursday from Christine Blasey Ford, who alleged that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school, would sway Republican undecideds. But Kavanaugh fiercely denied the allegations against him, and Flake said, “I left the hearing yesterday with as much doubt as certainty.”
Flake, a member of the judiciary committee that is voting Friday on the nomination, was met with immediate protests after his press release was sent out.
Flake was cornered in an elevator by protesters, including a woman identifying herself as a sexual assault victim.
“Look at me when I’m talking to you, you’re telling me that my sexual assault doesn’t matter,” she yelled at Flake, in a confrontation caught on video.
There were other rowdy protests outside the Dirksen building where the meeting was taking place. Protesters were blowing whistles and shouting “Shame!” and “November is coming!” in reference to the upcoming midterm elections.
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., was shown an email revealing Flake’s decision and grew emotional and near tears before declining to comment.
Democrats on the judiciary committee also lodged their protests as an afternoon vote was planned.
“The answer is no no no,” yelled Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, when asked for her vote on whether to proceed. Hirono, along with Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., walked out of the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting in protest of Kavanaugh. Klobuchar later returned.
At the back of the meeting room, a group of Democratic congresswomen protested silently during the vote before filing out.
Beyond D.C., celebrities such as George Takei and Debra Messing added to the angst.
“THIS IS DEVASTING [sic]. GUT WRENCHING.@JeffFlake you truly don’t believe #DrChristineBlaseyFord ?” tweeted Messing, along with the video of him being confronted in the elevator.
“Senator Flake, you should be named Senator Fake,” Takei, a former Star Trek actor, tweeted. “As in, spare us your fake handwringing and fake soul-searching. You’ve always been a partisan hack with no spine or true convictions. We knew you would vote for that vile toad, Kavanaugh. FAKE.”
Democrats have indicated they intend to continue investigating the allegations against Kavanaugh even if he is confirmed.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy contributed to this report.