Se­na­tor’s mys­tery let­ter on Ka­vanaugh

The Detroit News - - Trump Administration - BY LISA MAS­CARO As­so­ci­ated Press

Wash­ing­ton – Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein, the top Demo­crat on the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, said Thurs­day she has no­ti­fied fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors about in­for­ma­tion she re­ceived – and won’t dis­close pub­licly – con­cern­ing Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett Ka­vanaugh.

The Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat said in a state­ment that she “re­ceived in­for­ma­tion from an in­di­vid­ual con­cern­ing the nom­i­na­tion.” She said the per­son “strongly re­quested con­fi­den­tial­ity, de­clined to come for­ward or press the mat­ter fur­ther, and I have hon­ored that de­ci­sion.”

The FBI con­firmed that it re­ceived the in­for­ma­tion Wed­nes­day evening and in­cluded it in Ka­vanaugh’s back­ground file, which is main­tained as part of his nom­i­na­tion. The agency said that is its stan­dard process.

A Se­nate Demo­cratic aide and an­other per­son fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said it re­ferred to an in­ci­dent that oc­curred while Ka­vanaugh was high-school age. The two spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they weren’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the mat­ter.

The de­tails of the al­leged in­ci­dent and the iden­tity of the per­son who pro­vided the in­for­ma­tion were un­clear.

The White House called Fe­in­stein’s move an “11th hour at­tempt to de­lay his con­fir­ma­tion.”

The Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, which has fin­ished con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings for Ka­vanagh, is sched­uled to vote next Thurs­day on whether to rec­om­mend that he be con­firmed by the full Se­nate.

Fe­in­stein’s state­ment that she has “re­ferred the mat­ter to fed­eral in­ves­tiga­tive au­thor­i­ties” jolted Capi­tol Hill and threat­ened to dis­rupt what has been a steady path to­ward con­fir­ma­tion for Ka­vanaugh by Repub­li­cans ea­ger to see the con­ser­va­tive judge on the court.

Fe­in­stein has held the let­ter close. Demo­cratic se­na­tors on the panel met pri­vately Wed­nes­day evening and dis­cussed the in­for­ma­tion, ac­cord­ing to Se­nate aides who were not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion pub­licly and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Some se­na­tors, in­clud­ing the No. 2 Demo­crat, Dick Durbin of Illi­nois, learned about the in­for­ma­tion for the first time at the meet­ing, ac­cord­ing to one of the aides. Durbin told the se­na­tors they needed to bring the mat­ter to the FBI, the aide said.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has not had ac­cess to the let­ter but said he be­lieves the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee is han­dling it ap­pro­pri­ately, his of­fice said.

On Thurs­day, Fe­in­stein de­clined to an­swer ques­tions out­side the hear­ing room, and other se­na­tors’ of­fices largely de­ferred to her.

A spokes­woman for Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., de­clined to con­firm reports that the con­gress­woman had for­warded a let­ter con­tain­ing the al­le­ga­tions to Fe­in­stein. She said her of­fice has a con­fi­den­tial­ity pol­icy re­gard­ing case­work for con­stituents.

A White House spokes­woman, Kerri Ku­pec, said the FBI has vet­ted Ka­vanaugh “thor­oughly and re­peat­edly” dur­ing his ca­reer in gov­ern­ment and the ju­di­ciary.

At the com­mit­tee Thurs­day, Repub­li­cans brushed aside Demo­cratic at­tempts to de­lay the con­sid­er­a­tion of Ka­vanaugh or sub­poena more doc­u­ments, stick­ing with a sched­ule that could see him con­firmed by Oct. 1, when the new court ses­sion be­gins.


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