Photo Courtesy of Rep. Meng’s Office
Representatives Meng (from l.), Maloney, and Velazquez on Friday march from the steps of the U.S. Capitol to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room to protest the panel’s vote on Judge Kavanaugh.
By Michael V. Cusenza
For at least a few minutes on Friday, President Donald Trump wasn’t the most famous figure in the nation’s capital with a connection to Queens.
That’s because Astoria resident Ana Maria Archila decided to confront U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) regarding his announcement that morning that he would vote to confirm embattled Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court seat left vacant after Justice Anthony Kennedy retired in July. Archila, 39, and another woman went to Flake’s office in the Senate Russell Office Building where they learned of his decision.
“Yesterday, we heard compelling testimony from Dr. Ford, as well as a persuasive response from Judge Kavanaugh… I left the hearing yesterday with as much doubt as certainty,” Flake said in a statement released Friday morning. “What I do know is that our system of justice affords a presumption of innocence to the accused, absent corroborating evidence. That is what binds us to the rule of law. While some may argue that a different standard should apply regarding the Senate’s advice and consent responsibilities, I believe that the constitution’s provisions of fairness and due process apply here as well. I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”
After reading the statement, the two women cornered the senator in a nearby elevator. Video of the confrontation quickly went viral.
“I have two children. 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,” an anguished Archila said to a visibly uncomfortable Flake. “Look at me when I’m talking to you. You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter. That what happened to me doesn’t matter. And that you’re going to let people that do these things into power. That’s what you’re telling me when you vote for him.”
Several hours later, Flake indicated that his vote would be conditional upon an FBI investigation of the claims against Kavanaugh.
Also on Friday, three female members of Congress who represent Queens communities marched from the steps of the U.S. Capitol to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room to protest the panel’s vote on Kavanaugh.
“The committee’s rush to vote without an investigation, and without hearing from all the witnesses, will go down as a dark and shameful day in our nation’s history,” said Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), who walked arm-in-arm with Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan) and Nydia Velazquez (D-Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan).