believe survivors kavanaugh flake lindsey graham

UPDATE: These Brave Sexual Assault Survivors May Have Forced an FBI Investigation Into Kavanaugh

Just in case you still thought protest couldn't bring about real change.

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Following yesterday’s emotional day of testimony from Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, Senate Republicans are pushing forward with a vote to move his nomination from the Judiciary Committee to the full Senate, scheduled for 1:30pm ET today.

Leading up to that vote, a number of Republicans have been publicly confronted by survivors of sexual assault demanding that they listen to their stories and explain their apathy regarding the seriousness of Dr. Ford’s testimony.

Yesterday, gender equality activist Robyn Swirling confronted Lindsey Graham as he was walking away from a news briefing with reporters. (That was when he told them that Democrats had better “watch out” for their nominees.) She told Graham that she had been raped 13 years ago and asked if he believed her. His response was to tell her she should have gone to the cops.

That response isn’t surprising coming from Graham. This is a man who called Kavanaugh’s questioning the “most despicable thing” he’s seen in politics, condemning Democrats for having made up their minds that they believe Dr. Ford while also declaring that nothing will keep him from voting for Kavanaugh.

Jeff Flake, though, was once considered to be a swing vote in the Kavanaugh confirmation. This morning, the Republican from Arizona said he would vote yes to confirm. Moments later, he was cornered by two women as he got into an elevator. They refused to let the doors close and berated him for nearly five minutes.

“What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit on the Supreme Court,” yelled one woman who told the senator she had been sexually assaulted. “You have children in your family. Think about them. I have two children. 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.”

A second woman joined in, telling Flake that she was also 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,” she said. “That’s what you’re telling all of these women. That’s what you’re telling me right now.”

“Look at me when I’m talking to you,” the woman said to Flake, who had been looking at the floor and appearing to pretend to push elevator buttons until then. “You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter, that what happened to me doesn’t matter, that you’re going to let people who do these things into power anyway.”

Flake refused to answer the women’s questions about whether he believes Kavanaugh was telling the truth, but just thanked them and continued to avoid eye contact.

Those videos are heartbreaking, and show just how cowardly Flake is. Also, I hate how much this tweet is getting my hopes up:

Please prove us wrong, Jeff Flake, and put an end to this.

Update 1:55pm: The women who confronted Flake have been identified.

Update 2:20 pm: The Senate Judiciary panel approved Kavanaugh after Flake secured a deal to delay the full Senate vote back a week. He joined the Democrats in urging an FBI investigation during that time. Predictably, the other Committee Republicans are still fighting the investigation, but no matter what happens, there’s no doubt these women made a difference today.

(image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.