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Revealed by Friends Flake and Coons on ’60 Minutes’: Details of Kavanaugh Compromise

'Jeff's the hero here,' said the Delaware Democrat about his Republican buddy from Arizona on Sunday night

Image Credit: Screenshots, YouTube/CBS

In a wide-ranging interview that aired Sunday night on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) told the tale of how they struck an unexpected compromise last Thursday that ultimately advanced Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh out of the Senate Judiciary Committee — and toward a vote on the Senate floor, which has yet to take place.

“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,” said Flake, seated beside friend and fellow committee member Coons.

“They were clearly passionate and determined that I hear them,” said Flake about the two activists, Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher, who accosted Flake in an elevator just after he announced that he would vote for Judge Kavanaugh.

Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, told NPR she had decided to tell her story of abuse a few days prior to the interaction in the elevator with Flake.

“How could you not [believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford]?” Sen. Flake said to Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes,” noting that he and many people “on both sides” found Ford’s testimony on Thursday “compelling.”

Flake and Coons, however, were of slightly different minds when it came to what they made of Kavanaugh’s testimony on Thursday — and of what it may or may not reveal about his temperament and judicial suitability for the Supreme Court.

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Coons said Kavanaugh “went over a line,” referencing the heated exchanges between Kavanaugh and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) during the hearings.

The senator described Kavanaugh’s response as “belligerent, aggressive, [and] angry,” and noted that it made him wonder about Kavanaugh’s suitability for the high court.

Flake, on the other hand, was more forgiving on this point.

“I have to put myself in that spot, and you can understand why [Kavanaugh] was angry,” said Flake of the man who stood accused of sexual assault, including multiple gang rapes — with nary a scintilla of corroborating evidence. “I think you give a little leeway there.”

Also interviewed for the segment were Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), John Kennedy (R-La.), and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

Hirono said she found Kavanaugh’s statement alleging the Democrats had conspired against his nomination “astounding,” adding that the judge had not ascribed any political motives to Ford.

Whitehouse described Kavanaugh’s delivery of his remarks at the hearing as “explosively confrontational.”

“I believe she is sincere,” Kennedy said of Ford’s uncorroborated belief that Kavanaugh assaulted her in the ’80s.

“Nobody is going to ever figure out what happened. They’re not,” he added, explaining that Ford’s and Kavanaugh’s accounts are mutually incompatible — one says and believes the assault happened, while the other says and believes it did not.

Graham’s concerns expanded beyond the hearing to the workings of the committee and the larger Senate.

Coons described himself as “hugely distraught” when a reporter told him outside the hearing room that Flake had decided to vote for Kavanaugh.

“The politics of voting for Supreme Court nominees are now about you. It’s not about the nominee. It’s not about the law. It’s about how does it affect you,” said Graham. By “you,” he was referring to the senators.

Coons described himself as “hugely distraught” when a reporter told him outside the hearing room that Flake had decided to vote for Kavanaugh.

Coons lobbied Flake, proposing a week-long FBI investigation of the allegations as a compromise.

“Jeff’s the hero here,” said Coons.

Related: Dems Try to Blow Open the Flake-Coons Compromise

Flake, who is not running for re-election, told Pelley there was “not a chance” he could have acted on Coons’ floated proposal if he were running again.

“There is no value to reaching across the aisle. There’s no currency for that anymore. There’s no incentive,” said Flake.

Asked about the chance that no advancements at all will be made during the week-long investigation, Coons sighed heavily.

“There is a chance, and we knew that,” said Flake, acknowledging the possibility that their effort may be for naught, or that matters could worsen, including the possibility of other “outrageous allegations” coming forward.

But Coons said he believes we will “be in a different place” after the pause because “lots of survivors around the country will feel that Dr. Ford’s story was heard and respected and further investigated.”

Both Flake and Coons agreed that if Kavanaugh is found to have lied to the committee — the judge’s nomination will be over.

Watch this clip from the “60 Minutes” interview:

Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.

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