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Tensions boiled over Friday morning on Capitol Hill when Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona, who had just announced his intention to vote in favor of confirming embattled Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh, was confronted by protesters pleading with him to change his mind. As the scene unfolded it wasn’t clear who the women were, but The Daily Beast later identified them as Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher, and interviewed Gallagher about the experience.
The exchange took place in an elevator situated in the halls of the Hart Senate Building. It was all caught on camera and apparently the two women made quite an impression because, in a stunning turnaround, Flake later in the day called for a vote on Kavanaugh to be delayed for one week so the FBI could investigate the sexual misconduct claims that have been made against the nominee. The Arizona senator was answering questions about his announcement that he planned to back Kavanaugh’s confirmation when a tearful Archila blocked the elevator door and interjected.
“On Monday, I stood in front of your office,” Archila began. “I told the story of my sexual assault. I told it because I recognized in Dr. Ford’s story that she is telling the truth. What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit on the Supreme Court. This is not tolerable. You have children in your family. Think about them. I have two children.”
A day earlier, Christine Blasey Ford appeared on Capitol Hill and told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she is ‘100 percent’ certain Kavanaugh sexuall assaulted her in 1982 when the two, then high school students, were at a house party.
Flake, clearly caught off guard, had little to say to Archila. Two stone-faced women, apparently the senator’s aides, looked straight ahead. The elevator began to buzz from the door being held open as Archila continued.
“I cannot imagine that for the next 50 years they will have to have someone in the Supreme Court who has been accused of violating a young girl! What are you doing, sir?” she pleaded.
Gallagher, 23, then interjected, saying, “I was sexually assaulted and nobody believed me. I didn’t tell anyone, and you’re telling all women that they don’t matter, that they should just stay quiet because if they tell you what happened to them you are going to ignore them.”
“You’re telling all women that they don’t matter, that they should just stay quiet,” she continued. “You have power, but so many women are powerless.”
“Tell me,” Archila pleaded about whether Flake thought Kavanaugh was being truthful during his testimony. “I’m standing right here in front of you.”
Throughout the entire confrontation, which lasted a little under five minutes, Flake only managed to say, “Thank you,” and “I need to go to the hearing,” a few times. Despite having very little to say in realtime, the women clearly impacted his thinking as he went into the Senate Judiciary Committee vote.
Sam Stein of The Daily Beast spoke to Gallagher afterward about what had unfolded. Gallagher said she was staked out alongside other protesters near Flake’s office with a goal of doing whatever it took to change his mind about voting to advance Kavanaugh. But she didn’t think she’d actually run into him. “It was all kind of a blur,” Gallagher told The Daily Beast. “We all ran after him. We held open the elevator and I just started telling him why it was important and what had happened to me and why he should not let Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.” In the moment, she said she was angered by the fact that Flake “wouldn’t meet my eyes.”
She added that she had never told anyone about being sexually assaulted prior to that moment — and then suddenly her revelation was being aired live on national television in a video clip that went viral online. She had never even told her mother, who happened to be watching CNN when it happened.
Within hours of that impassioned moment in the elevator, Flake, who is retiring from the Senate at the end of his term, stunned Republican members of the Judiciary Committee when he called for a one week delay so the FBI could investigate before the full Senate votes on whether or not Kavanaugh will be given a lifetime assignment to the Supreme Court. Gallagher celebrated the victory in a post on Twitter accompanied by a photo of herself and Archila embracing. “I feel relieved that @JeffFlake seems to have heard my and @AnaMariaArchil2’s voices in the Senate elevator today,” she said.
I feel relieved that @JeffFlake seems to have heard my and @AnaMariaArchil2’s voices in the Senate elevator today. We absolutely need an FBI investigation and for him and all Senators to vote NO. #StopKavanaugh pic.twitter.com/VnsfTIRGXJ
— Maria Gallagher (@mgallagher822) September 28, 2018
Watch video of the full dramatic confrontation in the elevator below.
Read the full story at The Daily Beast.