Democrats refer Kavanaugh allegations to FBI, deepening divide over his nomination

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month.
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The White House is accusing Senate Democrats of an unfounded “11th-hour attempt to delay” a vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, released a statement Thursday afternoon disclosing that she had referred “a matter” involving Kavanaugh to “federal investigative authorities.”

Democratic sources said the “matter” involved allegations against Kavanaugh made by a California woman about conduct that allegedly occurred in high school.

Feinstein said the individual “strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision.”

Feinstein had initially planned to keep the matter private, Democratic sources said, and did not disclose the allegations to other Democratic senators, but when word of the allegations began to leak out, she decided to turn the matter over to the FBI.

Sources added that Democrats feared that doing nothing would open them up to accusations of a cover-up.

White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec dismissed the episode as an obstructionist tactic.

“Throughout his confirmation process, Judge Kavanaugh has had 65 meetings with senators — including with Senator Feinstein,” Kupec said, adding that Kavanaugh sat through 30 hours of testimony. But, she said, “Not until the eve of his confirmation has Sen. Feinstein or anyone raised the specter of new ‘information’ about him.

Kupec pointed out that throughout his 25 years of public service, Kavanaugh has been vetted by the FBI repeatedly.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who also sits on the Judiciary Committee drove home that point with these tweets:

The Feinstein kerfuffle capped off a day of bitter partisan exchanges at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, with Democrats repeatedly seeking access to further documents from Kavanaugh’s six years in the Bush White House, only to be shot down on repeated party-line votes.

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