Some Senate Democrats wish Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) had come forward sooner with her information about a woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, according to a new report.
The Washington Post reported that, “privately, some Democratic senators wished that Feinstein had come to them sooner with the allegation, according to a Democrat with direct knowledge of internal Senate dynamics.”
Feinstein first received a letter from Christine Blasey Ford in late July detailing what she said was Kavanaugh drunkenly pinning her to a bed, groping her and trying to stop her from screaming before she escaped. Kavanaugh has emphatically denied the allegation. At least two others Ford identified as having attended the party have also denied knowledge of the gathering and alleged asault.
However, after Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings concluded, Feinstein released a cryptic statement on Thursday about having received “information” about Kavanaugh from an unnamed individual and referring the matter to federal authorities. Eventually, the letter’s contents leaked and Ford revealed herself as the accuser.
Feinstein didn’t reveal the letter’s contents to her fellow Democrats on the committee until last Wednesday. Her office has denied it leaked the letter’s contents to the media.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing for Monday to allow Kavanaugh and Ford to both testify, although whether the hearing will occur remains in doubt. Ford wants an FBI investigation before she testifies.
Senate Democrats were described as “tepid” in their reaction to Feinstein’s handling of the situation.
“I will tell you that I’m glad we’re going to have a hearing and get to the bottom of it. It’d have been nice to have it done before,” Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D.) said. “But you know, I wasn’t in her shoes.”
Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono (D.) said “she did her best,” while Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D.) called it “extremely difficult circumstances.” California Sen. Kamala Harris (D.) could only offer, “I can’t fault her.”
The San Francisco Chronicle panned Feinstein in an editorial, saying she took the “worst possible course.”
Not surprisingly, the White House has been sharply critical of Feinstein’s actions. President Donald Trump blasted Feinstein by name during remarks at the White House on Tuesday for waiting until the 11th hour.
“When Senator Feinstein sat with Judge Kavanaugh for a long period of time, a long, long meeting, she had this letter,” he said. “Why didn’t she bring it up? Why didn’t the Democrats bring it up then? Because they obstruct and because they resist. That’s the name of their campaign against me.”
Trump has stood behind Kavanaugh and called it “ridiculous” to suggest Kavanaugh would consider withdrawing from consideration for the Supreme Court.