'60 Minutes' Interviews Senators Flake, Coons, Graham, Hirono & More On Kavanaugh Delay Compromise

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CBS NEWS: Sen. Jeff Flake explains why he insisted on a week-long FBI investigation into the allegations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh. 60 Minutes spoke with Flake and other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about the drama on Capitol Hill last week

Transcript, via CBS News:

Scott Pelley, CBS NEWS: Millions of Americans couldn't turn away from a political spectacle that no one wanted to see. Last week, the United States Senate was riven by fury over the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. In the hearing room, two great forces dominating our society collided: the "Me Too" movement against sexual harassment and violence and hyper-partisan politics. Friday, as the Senate descended into chaos, one Republican and one Democrat found a way forward with an old technique that seemed long forgotten: compromise.



Tonight, in their first interview since the vote, those senators, Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware sit down with us. It was Republican Flake who forced his party to accept a one week FBI investigation into the assault allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.

Sen. Jeff Flake: I don't think anybody expected, you know, what happened on Friday to happen. And I can't say that I did either. I just knew that we couldn't move forward, that I couldn't move forward without hitting the pause button. Because, what I was seeing, experiencing, in an elevator and watching it in committee and just thinking, this is ripping our country apart.

Scott Pelley: What happened in the elevator?

Sen. Jeff Flake: (LAUGHS) People felt very strongly about the hearings and what was going on.

Woman to Flake in elevator: What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit on the Supreme Court. This is not tolerable.

Flake had just announced that he would vote for Kavanaugh. The people who felt so strongly were activists Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher who told Flake they were survivors of sexual assault.

Woman to Flake in elevator: Look at me and tell me it doesn't matter what happened to me.

Sen. Jeff Flake: They were clearly passionate and determined that I hear them.

Christine Blasey Ford at hearing: I believe he was going to rape me, I tired to yell for help.

What the Senate Judiciary Committee heard Thursday upended Kavanaugh's nomination.

Christine Blasey Ford at hearing: This is what terrified me the most and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school.

Sen. Dick Durbin at hearing: With what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?

Christine Blasey Ford at hearing: 100 percent.

Democrat Chris Coons and Republican Jeff Flake listened from opposite ends of the dais, separated by party. But in truth, they were much closer. They had struck up a friendship over the years that bridged mere politics.

Scott Pelley: As you are sitting there listening to Dr. Ford what are you hearing what are you thinking?

Sen. Chris Coons: I'm hearing a very smart anguished person who did not want to be testifying in front of us and meanwhile my phone is just blowing up. It was stunning the number of people I heard from during the hearing. That-- It was almost hard to know which to listen to more because the things coming in were so striking.

Scott Pelley: And they were saying what?

Sen. Chris Coons: "You've known me a very long time and I was raped as a child and I have never told anyone before right now and I'm sharing it with you."

Scott Pelley: There's another stream of testimony coming into you at the same time?

Sen. Chris Coons: In the case of the folks I am referring to, powerful testimony from people I know and trust, who had never shared these stories with me before.

Sen. Jeff Flake: It was just that palpable feeling that this was history and she was compelling. Just extremely compelling and I think everybody said that on both sides.

Scott Pelley: You did or did not believe her?

Sen. Jeff Flake: Well how could you not? She certainly believes she experienced something, was it Brett Kavanaugh? He says, "I'm sure she experienced something but it wasn't me."

Judge Brett Kavanaugh at hearing: This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit revenge on behalf of the Clintons. And millions of dollars and money of outside left-wing opposition groups.

Scott Pelley: I'd like to ask both of you what you made of Judge Kavanaugh's very emotional response and what it may or may not say about his judicial temperament. Does this man belong on the Supreme Court?

Sen. Chris Coons: He had exchanges with Senator Feinstein, with Senator Klobuchar, with others, that I thought went over a line. He was clearly belligerent-- aggressive, angry.

Scott Pelley: Made you wonder about his suitability?

Sen. Chris Coons: In my case, yes,

Scott Pelley: But Sen. Flake, you identified with it. You understood--

Sen. Jeff Flake: Well, it did-- it seemed partisan. But boy, I had to put myself in that spot. And-- you can-- you can understand why he was angry. And you know, I think you give a little leeway there.

Scott Pelley: When Judge Kavanaugh came out swinging what was that moment like for you.


Continue reading the entire transcript at CBS News.

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