Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's State of the Union guest is activist who confronted Jeff Flake in elevator

By Caitlin O'Kane

/ CBS News

Assault survivor on confronting Sen. Flake

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become known for making a statement – and she's not going to attend President Trump's State of the Union address without sending a message of her own. The New Yorker is bringing a special guest to her first State of the Union as a congresswoman: Ana Maria Archila. The activist is known for confronting then-Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Archila, the co-executive director of Center for Popular Democracy Action, told Flake, who has since joined CBS News as a contributor, about her own sexual assault, urging him not to vote to confirm Kavanaugh. Video of the interaction, which took place in a stopped elevator, went viral.

After Archila was widely seen online, she appeared on "CBS This Morning" to talk about the interaction. She said she had been going to Washington, D.C., for weeks trying to talk to senators about her concerns over Kavanaugh joining the Supreme Court – even before he faced allegations of sexual assault. "I think that he stands for the rollback of decades of progress for women's rights, for communities of color, for workers, for immigrants," Archila said.

"I was doing the work of making my voice heard, bringing others to make sure that the decision was informed by the appearances of people who stood to lose so much."

Protesters confront Senator Jeff Flake in elevator following "yes" on Kavanaugh

"Look at me when I'm talking to you!": Senator Jeff Flake was confronted by protesters after he announced that he would vote to confirm judge Brett Kavanaugh. https://cbsn.ws/2N8YAQb

Posted by CBS News on Friday, September 28, 2018

Archila and another woman, Maria Gallagher, decided to go to Flake's office, where they saw his statement of support for Kavanaugh after the judge and Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"So, when we saw him, we were having all these reactions of, how can you do this?" Archila said. "We just heard a woman yesterday, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, pour her heart out and tell about attacks to protect our country. I stood in front of his office and told my story to protect my children and the country they're growing up in."

The two women stood outside an elevator confronting Flake, who was inside as they told him of their experiences with sexual assault: "Look at me when I'm talking to you! You're telling me that my assault doesn't matter!" one woman said.

Ocasio-Cortez announced that Archila would be her State of the Union guest on Monday, writing on Twitter that Archila is a New Yorker from the 14th District, which the congresswoman represents.

The activist "famously jumped into the elevator with Sen. Flake to elevate the stories of survivors everywhere," Ocasio-Cortez wrote. "She's living proof that the courage within all of us can change the [world]."

I’m proud to announce that my #StateOfTheUnion guest will be @AnaMariaArchil2.

Ana Maria is the NY14-er who famously jumped into the elevator with Sen. Flake to elevate the stories of survivors everywhere.

She‘s living proof that the courage within all of us can change the 🌎. https://t.co/OLSeNbP4Z2

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 4, 2019

Other State of the Union guests include Logan Ireland, an Air Force staff sergeant who identifies as transgender and will be attending with Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, and Cameron Kasky, a survivor of last year's deadly school shooting in Florida and a student activist, who will attend with Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California.

CBS News will broadcast and stream Mr. Trump's State of the Union address, which is expected to begin Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET.

First published on February 5, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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