By Carlo Versano
For a second straight day, Room 226 at the Dirksen U.S. Senate Building was the site of tension and high drama as Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee ー to the fury of Democrats, some of whom walked out in protest ー pushed ahead with Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a moderate conservative, issued a statement Friday morning indicating he was a "yes" on the nomination.
He said he found both Prof. Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh to be credible in their Thursday testimonies, but "the constitution's provisions of fairness and due process" swayed him to support the nomination.
Flake, who some thought might break from his party and oppose Kavanaugh, then voted along with the rest of the committee Republicans against a motion to subpoena Mark Judge, Kavanaugh's friend who was allegedly in the same room during the assault that Ford described during her testimony.
After Flake's vote was made public, he was confronted by sexual assault survivors in an elevator in a video that immediately went viral on social media. Cheddar's J.D. Durkin witnessed the confrontation and spoke to one of the survivors afterward, saying it was an "incredibly raw" moment in what is rapidly becoming a flashpoint event for the country's political divide.
As the committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), held a procedural vote to set the time for its full vote, Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California refused to vote and then left the hearing room in protest.
The vote passed, 11-8 on party lines ー clearing the way for Kavanaugh's nomination to move out of committee at 1:30 p.m ET.
Meanwhile, the American Bar Association, in an unusual move, said it supported a full FBI investigation into the alleged assault and that Kavanaugh's final confirmation vote should be postponed until such an investigation is completed. A prominent Jesuit magazine, which had previously endorsed the nomination, rescinded its support in light of Ford's testimony. (Kavanaugh attended Georgetown Prep, a Jesuit high school.)
Whether Kavanaugh can muster the 51 votes needed for confirmation still relies on a small handful of moderate Senators. With Flake now in the "yes" column, the focus will shift to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).