Two sexual assault victims confronted Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator early Friday morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee vote on recommending Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Hours later, Flake voted to support the nomination, but called for a delay on the final vote.
The scene was caught by CNN's cameras and came just moments after Flake's office issued a statement on his support of Kavanaugh.
"What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit on the Supreme Court. This is not tolerable. You have children in your family. Think about them. I have two children," one woman, Ana Maria Archila, told Flake through tears. "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?"
The other woman, Maria Gallagher, told Flake she was sexually assaulted and no one believed her.
"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. That's what happened to me, and that's what you are telling all women in America, that they don't matter," Gallagher said. "They should just keep it to themselves because if they have told the truth you're just going to help that man to power anyway."
Flake was clearly uncomfortable during the exchange, looking at the ground and tried to avoid eye contact.
Gallagher repeatedly told him to look at her, adding, "Look at me and tell me that it doesn't matter what happened to me. That you will let people like that go into the highest court of the land and tell everyone what they can do with their bodies... Do you think that he's telling the truth?"
Flake only said "thank you" repeatedly, before telling a CNN reporter he needed to get to the hearing.
The emotional moment captured the attention of social media, with many taking to Twitter to share their reactions of the heated clip.
Folks, Jeff Flake did not make this happen. WOMEN made it happen. Courageous women shaming his inaction in a Senate elevator to make it happen.
Please get it right.#BelieveSurvivors— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) September 28, 2018
What Maria Gallagher & Ana Maria Archila did today in confronting Jeff Flake in the elevator was so important. In the act of telling him their experiences and in the reporting of that act by journalists, he lost some of the cover he had for a yes vote. Your voice matters.— Shannon Coulter (@shannoncoulter) September 28, 2018
Yes. They expressed themselves so beautifully under unspeakable pressure.— Kim Baker 🇺🇸 🇫🇷 (@kislanykim) September 28, 2018
Very powerful. He had nothing to say. These women were very well spoken and made excellent points—not just emotion but clear thinking and reason. It’s very sad what’s happening.— Rei (@zoomiewoop) September 28, 2018
I’m so disappointed in Jeff Flake. I should not be shocked, but I find that I am after watching this plea from women who were victims themselves and the voices of men that give a damn. Flake has decided that he does not give a damn. He blew it.— Tammy Maria Settles (@MariaTammy) September 28, 2018
Archila is the co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, while Gallagher is a recent college graduate. They said they did not know each other before Friday and are both sexual assault victims. Archila told CNN she was sexually assaulted when she was 5 years old.
"I wanted him to feel my rage," Archila later told the New York Times.
On Twitter, it was speculated that Archila and Gallagher were responsible for the drama Flake was at the center at during the vote. Although Flake voted with his 10 Republican colleagues on the committee, the retiring Senator asked for a delay in the final vote so the FBI could conduct an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Kavanaugh.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the Majority Whip, said there will be a "supplemental" FBI investigation, reports the Wall Street Journal. It is still up to President Donald Trump to order the FBI to start the investigation though.0comments
Photo credit: CNN