Echoes of "we believe survivors" rang up and down the Senate on Friday, as lawmakers clashed on how to move forward on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
On Friday evening, the Senate Judiciary Committee finally asked the White House to reopen the FBI investigation into Kavanaugh's background, emphasizing that it "must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week."
Shortly after, President Trump approved the FBI probe. Kavanaugh said he will continue to cooperate with the FBI. It's unclear exactly what this type of investigation would entail, and whether it would go beyond the allegations of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who on Thursday testified that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school. In the floor vote, Kavanaugh's fate will likely come down to the decisions of two female Republican senators: Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.
Friday afternoon, the Judiciary Committee voted to advance Kavanaugh's nomination, but only after Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, amid a very public internal conflict, joined the Democrats in calling for a one-week delay in the floor vote to wait for the results of the FBI investigation.
The agreement was preceded by a chaotic day of deliberations. On Friday morning, several Democrats including Sens. Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono walked out of the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, refusing to cast their committee votes. They held an impromptu press conference, encouraging the gathered crowd of hundreds to continue speaking up for sexual assault survivors.
"I couldn't sit there any longer," Sen. Harris told reporters as women, some of whom said they were sexual assault survivors, approached her thanking her for her "brilliant questioning" of Kavanaugh. "There was no fair process, people weren't being heard, they were pushing it through without an ability for people to even be able to express their objections. It was a travesty, frankly."
Speaking with Refinery29 about his explosive testimony on Thursday, Sen. Harris addressed the partisan comments Kavanaugh — who is being considered for the highest court in the land, a position that must be impartial by nature — made, saying the effort against him has been "fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election" and "revenge on behalf of the Clintons."
"From the beginning, it has been my position based on his record that he is a political operative," Sen. Harris told Refinery29. "He's showed that. Under pressure, he didn't have the benefit of having the kind of façade that he had created during this hearing. Under pressure, he revealed himself for who he really is. And that is a political operative."
Hundreds of protesters marched in the hallways of the Senate, and 81 were arrested on Friday morning as they participated in an act of civil disobedience outside of the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting in the Dirksen Senate office building. Seven more were arrested Friday afternoon in a separate protest. During the Dirksen protest, some sounded rape whistles, which police took away. Security ushered out protestors and reporters, threatening them with arrest if they stayed in that hallway. Those who were arrested were charged with unlawfully crowding or obstructing, and then processed and released.
"November is coming," and "We believe Christine," the protestors chanted.
As police led out protestors in handcuffs, others yelled "thank you" to them for putting themselves on the line.
Melissa Shaw, a writer and educator from New York City, told Refinery29 that she had traveled to D.C. for the hearings in order to show her solidarity with Dr. Ford, just as hundreds have.
"After watching the extremely credible testimony from Dr. Ford yesterday and the hysterics of Judge Kavanaugh, I would like to say that I was hoping the committee would call for a full FBI investigation," she says. "Roe v. Wade is in terrible danger, and so are other Supreme Court cases that have helped build the fabric of what the United States is." She had two words for Republicans who believe Democrats are playing dirty politics with the Kavanaugh nomination: Merrick Garland.
This story was originally published at 2:20 p.m. It has since been updated.