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With Republican Sen. Flake in Boston, Anti-Kavanaugh Protesters Are Loud, Clear

October 2, 2018

Protesters gather on Boston City Hall Plaza in opposition to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Boston Herald photo /Nancy Lane Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

By Sean Philip Cotter, Mary Markos and Brooks Sutherland

Boston Herald

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake -- speaking after hundreds of protesters packed Boston’s City Hall Plaza to urge him to vote against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh -- called for the FBI investigation of the judge to be thorough, but said he’s satisfied with the limitations on it.

“It does no good to have an investigation that just gives us more cover,” Flake said at the Forbes 30 under 30 Summit in Boston Monday. “We actually need to find out what we can find out -- and we have to realize that we may not be able to find out everything that happened.”

Later Monday, at a Manchester, N.H., event, Flake vowed to vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation if the federal investigation determines he lied under oath.

And in subsequent comments to reporters, after he finished speaking to the largely receptive Boston crowd, Flake defended the time limitations and scope of the FBI investigation that he forced as a condition of his Senate Judiciary Committee vote to approve Kavanaugh last week.

“The compromise was limited in time -- a week -- and given that the Anita Hill investigation took four days and they took 22 witnesses, a week is certainly enough,” Flake said, referring to the woman who had accused Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his confirmation hearing three decades ago.

Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s controversial pick for the open Supreme Court seat, has been battling allegations of sexual assault. After he and accuser Christine Blasey Ford sat for hours of emotional testimony Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday voted to advance the nomination -- but Flake, who sits on the committee, had changed his mind after announcing support for Kavanaugh that morning and called for a weeklong FBI investigation into the claims.

Flake is retiring after his one six-year Senate term. A frequent Trump critic, he said he would like if “someone” attempted a primary run against the sitting president. While seen as a possible candidate himself -- a notion fueled by his plans to attend a New Hampshire event Monday night -- Flake said, “I don’t see that happening.”

As Flake addressed the 30 Under 30 crowd, protesters outside chanted, “Vote no, vote no!” Earlier in the day, hundreds crowded City Hall Plaza outside the Forbes conference waving signs and listening to local Democratic politicians and activists speak in the hopes of persuading Flake to deny Kavanaugh the Supreme Court seat.

Protester Susan Donovan of Quincy told the Herald she was sexually assaulted when she was in college, so it would be “almost un-American” not to come make her voice heard.

“I’m hoping this will be a step in the right direction, and hopefully the investigation will widen and not be overseen by the White House and the people who actually want him,” Donovan, 35, told the Herald. “The fact that there was a change gives me optimism.”

U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey and other politicians including Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Democratic congressional candidate Ayanna Pressley addressed the crowd.

“We believe Dr. Blasey Ford,” Markey said. “No one is entitled to a job on the Supreme Court -- everyone is entitled to the truth.”

Jenna Clemenzi, a 20-year-old senior at Simmons College, told the Herald that Kavanaugh’s anger and outbursts during his hearing are enough in themselves to keep him off the high court.

“I’m hoping that Jeff Flake will see the overwhelming support for women and realize that he needs to be on the survivors’ side and not the Republicans’ side for this,” Clemenzi said.

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