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Jeff Flake discusses allegations against Brett Kavanaugh on Senate floor

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake spoke before the Senate to discuss the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Flake was one of the first Republicans to call for a hearing for Kavanaugh accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to be heard. Kavanaugh and Ford will be testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday.

Flake, a critic of President Trump, is retiring this year. He is considered a possible swing vote in confirming Kavanaugh.

Flake's speech comes hours after a third woman, Julie Swetnick, accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

In his speech, Flake showed compassion for both Kavanaugh and Ford, repeatedly referring to them as "human beings." He also expressed regret that both Ford and Kavanaugh have received death threats, and disdain from some in both parties in the Senate.

"I will say to these witnesses -- these human beings -- we owe you both a sincere apology," Flake said about Kavanaugh and Ford. Flake, a staunch opponent of partisanship, blamed the "toxic political culture" for infecting the confirmation process. He also chastised his colleagues for politicizing the issue before hearing Ford and Kavanaugh testify, and urged them to keep "open minds."

"If we cannot have a human rather than a political response to these witnesses... then we shouldn't be here," he said. "I'll have to listen to [the] testimony before I make up my mind about the testimony." 

He said that he believes Ford isn't part of a vast left-wing conspiracy, and that Kavanaugh isn't a "serial sexual predator." Flake criticized President Trump for tweeting about Ford earlier this month, questioning her allegations.

"How uninformed and uncaring do we have to be to say things like that?" Flake said of Mr. Trump's words.

At the end of his speech, Flake said that he hoped "that we in this body will acknowledge that we don't have all the answers, we are imperfect humans, we will make imperfect decisions." Regardless of whether the Senate confirms Kavanaugh or not, Flake said, the decision "will forever be steeped in doubt."

  • Grace Segers

    Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.