Coppins: So, you were motivated mainly by preserving institutional credibility?

Flake: Two institutions, really. One, the Supreme Court is the lone institution where most Americans still have some faith. And then the U.S. Senate as an institution—we’re coming apart at the seams. There’s no currency, no market for reaching across the aisle. It just makes it so difficult.

Just these last couple of days—the hearing itself, the aftermath of the hearing, watching pundits talk about it on cable TV, seeing the protesters outside, encountering them in the hall. I told Chris, “Our country’s coming apart on this—and it can’t.” And he felt the same.

Coppins: Heading into Friday, what factors were you weighing as you decided how to vote?

Flake: It was a sleepless night. I was getting calls and emails for days from friends and acquaintances saying, “Here’s my story, here’s why I was emboldened to come out.” Dr. Ford’s testimony struck a chord, it really did, with a lot of women.