The “Flake-led rebellion” had “been building for nearly two weeks”
According to a report published by Politico, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) chose to appear pressured when, in fact, he masterminded the latest Kavanaugh delay. His subsequent media statements about his motivations and his media appearances in light of this report suggest Flake’s true motivations are far less pure than he would have us believe.
Flake’s focus on optics, on his raw ambition (for 2020?), and on the kind of “swamp creature” political maneuvering surrounding this planned reversal paints for the American people a hideous and disturbing portrait of the Arizona senator.
On Friday, Flake told the Atlantic that he insisted on the seventh FBI investigation into Judge Brett Kavanaugh because he was trying to save two institutions, the Senate and the Supreme Court. During this interview, he also explained that he was deeply moved by Chris Coons’ pleas and decided that it was up to him, Jeff Flake, to “bring a little unity,” to stop our country “coming apart on this.” A move that apparently brought Coons near tears.
To follow up on his preening media tour, Flake showed up on 60 Minutes with Coons in tow. CBS is revealing parts of this interview leading up to its Sunday night airing.
How did the Senate Judiciary Committee arrive at its last-minute compromise to continue the Supreme Court confirmation process of Judge Brett Kavanaugh? Senators Jeff Flake and Chris Coons tell the inside story tomorrow on 60 Minutes. pic.twitter.com/aewV9v91m1
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) September 29, 2018
In an interview with “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley airing Sunday, Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, and Chris Coons, D-Delaware, discussed what they thought of Kavanaugh’s emotional testimony. Both senators were instrumental in delaying a floor vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination for one week while the FBI conducts an investigation into claims against him.
. . . . Coons said Kavanaugh’s reaction to questions posed by Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Amy Klobuchar about his drinking and behavior in high school “went over a line.”
“He was clearly belligerent, aggressive, angry. And I thought there was a tough dynamic there. As I watched him, part of me thought, ‘This is a man who believes that he did nothing wrong, and he’s completely unjustly accused. And he’s being railroaded. And he’s furious about it,'” said Coons.
Coons added that Kavanaugh’s more “partisan” responses made him question his fitness for the bench.
“There were some lines that he delivered that were sharper, more partisan, more, ‘This is the Clintons paying me back. This is a Democratic smear campaign,’ that I was surprised, struck to hear from a judicial nominee,” Coons said. “I’m not at all surprised to hear that from other colleagues in the committee or on television. But I was really struck that I thought his anger got the best of him. And he made a partisan argument that would’ve been best left to be made for his advocates and defenders on the committee.”
Flake said he “didn’t like” Kavanaugh’s “mention of the Clintons and whatnot,” but added, “I had to put myself in that spot. I think you give a little leeway there.”
Flake’s positioning of himself as some sort of unifying force whose sole mission is to save the Senate and SCOTUS because he is driven by patriotic desires for national unity is unraveling, however.
The plot to further stall the Kavanaugh nomination was hatched Thursday night in Senator Susan Collins’ (R-ME) office. Also allegedly in attendance were Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). The four put their heads together and realized that as only Flake serves on the Judiciary Committee, they couldn’t pull off their devious plot without the assistance of another Senator serving on the committee.
They somehow landed on Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), and as noted above, Flake has been putting him to good use as a political prop and general useful idiot.
In Susan Collins’ third-floor office in the Capitol, she and her Republican colleagues Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — joined by Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia — agreed they had the power to make or break Kavanaugh. And without settling on precise details, they decided to use their leverage to insist on a process that would allow them to reach a comfort level with Kavanaugh’s confirmation process and seek more information, rather than to kill his Supreme Court nomination outright, according to two people familiar with the meeting,
What resulted on Friday afternoon threw Washington into chaos and guaranteed another week of uncertainty and suspense surrounding Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Just hours after Flake endorsed Kavanaugh and seemed to put him on a path to the high court, the Arizonan said he first wanted a week-long FBI investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that the judge assaulted her. It was a victory for Democrats who’d been demanding such a probe, to no avail, and promises to define the retiring Flake’s legacy as someone who refused to let Kavanaugh get a vote while under a cloud of doubt.
. . . . But the Flake-led rebellion, however long it lasts, had been building for nearly two weeks.
Though Murkowski, Collins and Manchin all endorsed the FBI investigation on Friday, Flake needed another partner to pull off his move because none of them serves on the Judiciary Committee. So Flake, who’s been mocked for writing a book blasting the Trump presidency only to vote for his agenda, teamed up with a Democrat.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) has spent his eight-year Senate career making earnest attempts to build relationships with Republicans, at times to liberals’ annoyance. He and Flake have taken trips around the world together as part of their duties. And on Friday afternoon, with a Supreme Court seat on the line, it all paid off.
Coons, who appears to be a hapless victim of Flake’s skullduggery, was then blindsided by Flake’s announcement that he was insisting on a further delay and investigation.
Coons and Flake vacated the Judiciary Committee shortly before the panel was expected to vote to advance Kavanaugh, a seemingly innocuous moment that left onlookers increasingly bewildered as more senators joined them in the back room. They returned minutes later with a deal that forced GOP leaders to bow to the minority’s demand for an FBI probe, delaying the confirmation for as much as a week.
“I did not expect him to do this today,” Coons said of Flake, speaking for nearly everyone in official Washington.
Flake’s plot doesn’t stop there; it includes signalling to Senate Republicans that his intentions are not to bring down Kavanaugh. It’s unclear how true that is, but Politico continues:
In fact, Flake was playing a longer game. He said his statement supporting Kavanaugh was a signal to Republicans that he wasn’t joining the Democratic resistance and would show he wasn’t out to bring Kavanaugh’s nomination down.
“I hoped that would help provide leverage,” Flake recounted. But he needed some Democrats to endorse the FBI investigation, if not Kavanaugh’s nomination, to get fellow Republicans to agree.
Flake wanted to demonstrate “that the process is fair, at least, even if [Democrats are] not going to vote for” Kavanaugh, he added.
Flake wouldn’t say whether the protesters played a role in his decision. But he acknowledged he was in the middle of a “remarkable” moment and ticked off his “interactions with a lot of people, on the phone, email, text, walking around the Capitol, you name it.”
. . . . In his speech, little-noticed at the time, Coons suggested that someone with a “partisan agenda” might have leaked to the media Ford’s letter alleging the assault — harmonizing with what Republicans had been saying for days. Coons’ speech also repeated his request for an FBI investigation.
It was exactly what Flake was looking for.
Not long afterward, Coons and Flake repaired to a committee anteroom to hash out an agreement: Democrats would endorse a one-week FBI investigation into Kavanaugh, and Flake would use his leverage in the narrowly divided Senate and threaten to vote “no” on the floor if Republicans refused to go along.
There is a somewhat disturbing revelation in the remaining Politico report.
Collins asked that Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge, whom Ford alleges was in the room during the alleged assault, sign a letter and send it to the committee rather than let his lawyer do it, according to two Republican senators. The letter was turned around in a matter of hours. And Murkowski had endorsed an FBI investigation days before, only to change her tune after meeting for more than a half-hour privately with McConnell.
We covered this letter which was submitted, the letter states, “under penalty of felony.”
Meanwhile, Flake—again with Coons in tow—was proclaimed a “hero” at Saturday’s Global Citizens Festival.DONATE
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