Senator Dianne Feinstein of California says she has turned over to federal investigators a secret letter about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, which she had reportedly been withholding from other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Officials close to the matter told the New York Times the letter details possible sexual misconduct between Kavanaugh and a woman that took place while they were both in high school.
Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a Thursday statement: “I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. 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.”
The information Feinstein refers to in her statement reportedly came from a letter sent to Democratic representative Anna Eshoo of California. Eshoo’s office passed the letter to Feinstein over the summer. The Times notes that the letter reportedly contains an allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh.
Feinstein, who has been active in the Kavanaugh hearings, only informed the other Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee of the letter and allegation on Wednesday — one week before the committee is set to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination. The Times reports that several committee members urged her to take the matter to the FBI.
Eshoo’s office declined to comment on the letter to HuffPost, saying that it came from a constituent and is therefore considered casework and won’t be made public. But on Thursday, the White House decried news of the letter as an attempt to delay the confirmation. “Throughout his confirmation process, Judge Kavanaugh has had 65 meetings with senators — including with Senator Feinstein — sat through over 30 hours of testimony, addressed over 2,000 questions in a public setting and additional questions in a confidential session,” White House spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.
“Not until the eve of his confirmation has Senator Feinstein or anyone raised the specter of new ‘information’ about him,” Kupec added, per the Times. “Senator Schumer promised to ‘oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have,’ and it appears he is delivering with this 11th hour attempt to delay his confirmation.”
BuzzFeed News believes that it knows the identity of the woman who is the subject of the letter. The outlet said it reached out to her last week and that she declined to comment. However, BuzzFeed News also reports that a lawyer believed to be representing the woman — acclaimed #MeToo attorney Debra Katz — was spotted leaving Capitol Hill on Wednesday shortly after the Intercept broke news of the letter. Katz declined to comment or confirm whether she was representing the woman. “There’s nothing to say,” she told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday.