Why Democrats brought up the Kavanaugh accusations at the last minute when they have known since July

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesBrett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 6, the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
  • Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein got a letter in July from Christine Blasey Ford accusing the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, but the allegation did not become public until Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings in September.
  • In the intervening months, Feinstein and her team considered hiring an investigator to look into Ford’s allegation, The Associated Press reported. They did not want to make Ford’s identity public because she had requested anonymity.
  • Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have accused Feinstein of keeping the allegation secret until the last minute to torpedo Kavanaugh’s nomination.
  • Other Democrats were also upset that the allegation was kept quiet, but Feinstein felt she had no choice, according to the AP.

The Democratic senator who has known about an allegation of sexual assault against the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh since July said she held off on making it public because the accuser had asked her to keep it confidential.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein received a letter on July 30 from Christine Blasey Ford alleging that at a high-school party in the 1980s, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her, and put his hands over her mouth when she resisted.

But Feinstein did not make the details public as Kavanaugh’s hearings progressed, and leaks about the allegation caught other Democrats off guard, The Associated Press reported on Monday, citing “a dozen interviews with senators, aides, and others.”

Ford first met with Rep. Anna Eshoo, who later told Feinstein about Ford’s allegation. Feinstein then asked that Ford write it in the letter, which the Senate Judiciary Committee has released in full.

Feinstein then felt that she faced a dilemma, the AP reported. Telling other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee could risk identifying Ford, who had asked that her identity be protected. But withholding the allegation would prevent Kavanaugh from having to answer to it.

Feinstein’s team considered hiring an investigator to look into the allegation, but that would have violated Senate rules saying that both parties on a committee must consult with each other, the AP reported.

Ford decided in August that she would not go public, according to the AP. She later told The Washington Post that she did not believe her story would affect Kavanaugh’s confirmation and that telling it would be painful.

But even though Feinstein said she kept quiet, details of the allegation began to leak. Democrats on the Judiciary Committee called on Feinstein to send Ford’s letter, with her name redacted, to the FBI. They were upset that Feinstein had not shared the information, the AP reported.

President Donald Trump has accused Feinstein and other Democrats of waiting to release the allegation so as to jeopardize Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“Senator Feinstein and the Democrats held the letter for months, only to release it with a bang after the hearings were OVER – done very purposefully to Obstruct & Resist & Delay,” the president tweeted last week. “Let her testify, or not, and TAKE THE VOTE!”


The AP described Kevin de Leon, a Democrat in California’s state Senate, as saying that Feinstein should have confronted Kavanaugh with the allegation at his confirmation hearing and that she could have done so without naming Ford.

“But Feinstein would claim she had no other choice,” the AP said.

Ford, who went public with her allegation in an interview with The Post in early September. She gave an emotional testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

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