The Senate has agreed to delay the Kavanaugh vote to allow for a new FBI investigation, and it all started with Sen. Jeff Flake.
While Flake voted with his fellow Republicans in favor of approving Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court on Friday, he also asked the Senate leadership to delay the full vote for up to one week, in order to allow time for the FBI to investigate the sexual assault allegations, effectively siding with Democrats.
“This country’s being ripped apart here,” Flake, who has spoken out against President Donald Trump multiple times, remarked.
Fellow Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, as well as Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III, went on to support Flake’s call for a delayed vote.
Here’s everything you need to know about who Flake is, and his history of opposing Trump.
He was first elected to public office in 2000
Before assuming office in 2013 as a state Senator, Flake, 55, previously served as a member of the House of Representatives for 12 years. He was first elected in 2000, entering office the following year.
Flake, a Mormon, is married to wife Cheryl Flake, with whom he shares five children.
He was present for in a mass shooting in 2017 — and helped one of the wounded victims
While participating in a 2017 charity Congressional baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia, a man opened fire on the baseball field.
During the incident, Flake was also seen running across the field in order to help House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who had been shot in the hip.
Minutes after the shooting, Flake told reporters that he saw Scalise drag “himself about 15 yards near second base onto the field” and that he “was laying motionless out there.”
After the shooter was shot down by Scalise’s Capitol Police security detail, Flake, “ran out to Steve and started putting pressure [on his wound]. And then did that for about 10 or 15 minutes. We did that until the medics arrived.”
Just one year later, when Scalise returned to baseball practice, Flake tweeted out a picture, writing, “This does my heart good.”
He’s been a vocal opponent of Trump, despite their shared political party
Without mincing any words, while giving a 2017 speech in the Senate, Flake compared Trump to Joseph Stalin, a former dictator of the Soviet Union.
“The ‘enemy of the people’ was how the president of the United States called the free press in 2017. Mr. President, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies,” he remarked, according to Fox News.
Months later, after being caught on a hot mic saying the GOP party would be “toast” if politicians like Trump continue to lead the party, he admitted on Twitter that he wasn’t bothered that those comments had been made public.
“No news here. I’ve been saying this to anyone who will listen,” he remarked.
Flake also went on to donate $100 to Democrat Doug Jones, who defeated Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore in a special election this year, after Moore was accused of sexual misconduct with several underage girls while he was in his 30s. Moore has denied all allegations against him.
“Country over party,” he wrote alongside a picture of the check.
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Why he’s been considered a swing vote in the Kavanaugh case
After speaking out against Trump and the direction of the GOP numerous times, on Oct. 24, 2017, Flake’s poll numbers plummeted and he announced that he would not be running for re-election.
“There’s just not a path for a Republican like me in a party like this,” he said, according to Time. He also went on to explain that since he no longer had to worry about appealing to his voter base, he was free to vote as he pleased.
“I’m unchained from the necessities of politics for the next 14 months,” he added.
He might be running against Trump for president in 2020
While he might not be going for reelection as a Senator he may have his eyes on another role. In March, during a political appearance in New Hampshire, where the nation’s presidential primary election is expected to be held in 2019, Flake delivered a speech entitled “Country Over Party” and admitted he hasn’t completely ruled out running for president during the next election.
“It’s not in my plan to run for president, but I am not ruling it out. Somebody needs to stand up for traditional Republicanism,” he told The Associated Press. “Somebody needs to raise that, for nothing else than to give people hope that that decent party will be back. We’ll get through this.”
If you or someone you care about is affected by sexual violence, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).