Jeff Flake: No re-election made compromise possible

The senator tells 60 Minutes there was "not a chance" he could have come to Kavanaugh agreement if he had to worry about running again

Last October, Sen. Jeff Flake announced he would not seek re-election in 2018. This week on 60 Minutes, correspondent Scott Pelley asks the Republican senator how much that factored into his decision to delay a vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

"I wonder — could you have done this if you were running for re-election?" Pelley asked.  

"Not a chance," Flake responded.

On Friday, Flake and Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat, walked out of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room to talk about next steps in Kavanaugh's confirmation. They returned after agreeing on the need for a limited FBI investigation of the sexual assault claims against Kavanaugh.

But Flake said in today's politics, there's no value to this kind of reaching across the aisle.

"There's no currency for that anymore. There's no incentive," he said.

Why Flake had to hit the "pause button" on Kavanaugh

Flake told Pelley he had to hit the "pause button" after being confronted in an elevator on Friday morning. He had just announced he would vote for Kavanaugh, and two women cornered him to tell him they, too, were survivors of sexual assault.

"I just knew that we couldn't move forward, that I couldn't move forward without hitting the pause button," Flake said. "Because what I was seeing, experiencing, in an elevator and watching it in committee, [I was] just thinking, this is tearing the country apart."