Supporters of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court blasted an “11th-hour stunt” by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who said Thursday she had referred allegations of a possible crime to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The New York Times cited confidential sources claiming the matter involves sexual misconduct when Kavanaugh was in high school. But Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, was light on details in her announcement.
“I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” she said in the statement. “That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”
Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), pointed to indications that Feinstein has had the letter for weeks and failed to bring it up until after Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing last week.
“She certainly could have asked about it if at the committee’s closed session,” he told LifeZette. “That’s what that session is for … This seems like an 11th-hour stunt.”
Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director at the Judicial Crisis Network, also criticized the move.
“This has all the indicators of an 11th-hour character assassination and a desperate attempt to delay and defeat the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, who has a sterling reputation in his community, his profession, his church and among hundreds of friends, colleagues and co-workers,” she said in a statement.
“Judge Kavanaugh submitted a questionnaire of over 17,000 pages, participated in two full days of public Senate hearings as well as a private session to discuss his background, and then he answered an additional 1,200 follow-up questions.”
The officials quoted in the Times account indicated that the incident occurred when Kavanaugh and the accuser both were in high school.
Whalen said he believes Feinstein would have moved on the complaint sooner if she believed it was credible.
“Certainly, the way Feinstein has handled it shows she doesn’t think there’s much to it,” he said.
The White House also stood by the nominee.
“Not until the eve of his confirmation has Sen. Feinstein or anyone raised the specter of new ‘information’ about him,” Department of Justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement.