The Slatest

Jeff Flake Says He Wasn’t Sure He Believed Brett Kavanaugh

A close-up image of Flake's face.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who secured a limited FBI background investigation into Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh but voted for him after the curtailed investigation appeared to have largely revisited already publicly known information, told the hosts of ABC’s The View on Tuesday that he was not sure if he believed Kavanaugh’s denials of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford.

“You know, she was very compelling,” Flake said. “He was very persuasive. I don’t know. I don’t know. I wish I had the certitude that some of my colleagues expressed. But I said on the floor before that hearing, we’re likely to leave the hearing with as much doubt as certainty. And that’s how I felt afterwards.”

“Did you believe Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony under oath before the committee?” The View’s Sunny Hostin asked directly.

Later, Hostin revisited her question: “So you didn’t believe her?”

“No, I don’t know. I don’t know,” Flake answered. “I don’t know if I believed him either.”

When two of the hosts pressed him on why he would vote for someone he had doubts about rather than choose a different candidate, he said the question represented a valid position but countered: “If the mere allegation with no corroboration is sufficient to disqualify someone, we’ve entered a new phase that we probably don’t want to enter.”

Flake also said that while he had wanted “a broader investigation that started sooner,” he thought the FBI investigation had been “thorough” and informative. “I wish that the country could have read that report,” he said.

Flake was also asked about the women who confronted him in an elevator before he decided to demand an FBI investigation with their stories of having been assaulted. “That was powerful,” he said. “And it was effective, too. I was unsettled about the process, I felt that we should have done an FBI investigation. And that reaffirmed it, believe me.” He added that friends and family members called him “throughout this process” to tell him about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault.

Flake joined 49 other senators in voting to confirm Kavanaugh on Oct. 6.