Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has come under heavy fire from both sides of the aisle for her handling of the unsubstantiated accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about an alleged sexual assault dating back 36 years, when the accuser and Kavanaugh were both in high school. Feinstein only ramped up the pressure on herself on Tuesday with a comment she is now scrambling to walk back.
Speaking to Fox News Tuesday, Feinstein said she "can't say everything's truthful" about the accusation from California professor Christine Blasey Ford.
Ford, said Feinstein, is "a woman that has been, I think, profoundly impacted, on this," Fox's Chad Pergram reports. "I can't say that everything is truthful. I don't know," Feinstein added.
Feinstein also told Fox that she knows that Ford "did not want to go public," which is "why I made the letter," but the situation was taken out of her control. Asked what will happen if Ford decides not to testify Monday, Feinstein said, "I have no say," stressing that the handling of the hearing is in Republicans' hands.
"Look I believe she is credible," said Feinstein, CBS News' Alan He reports. "What we have wanted is an investigation carried out to look at the facts before there was a hearing. The Republican majority is apparently not going to do that. But based on what I know at this stage she is credible."
Among the strong critics of Feinstein is the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal, which blasted her in an editorial Monday for her "highly irregular and transparently political" role in the accusation against Judge Kavanaugh:
The role of Senator Dianne Feinstein is also highly irregular and transparently political. The ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee knew about Ms. Ford’s accusations in late July or early August yet kept quiet. If she took it seriously, she had multiple opportunities to ask Judge Kavanaugh or have committee staff interview the principals. But in that event the details would have been vetted and Senators would have had time to assess their credibility.
Instead Ms. Feinstein waited until the day before a committee markup on the nomination to release a statement that she had “information” about the accusation and had sent it to the FBI. Her statement was a political stunt.
She was seeking to insulate herself from liberal charges that she sat on the letter. Or—and this seems increasingly likely given the course of events—Senator Feinstein was holding the story to spring at the last minute in the hope that events would play out as they have. Surely she knew that once word of the accusation was public, the press would pursue the story and Ms. Ford would be identified by name one way or another.
WSJ isn't the only outlet asking Feinstein hard questions. The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky is also wondering, "What in the hell were you thinking?"
First of all, what in blazes was Dianne Feinstein thinking? It was late July when she got that letter from a female constituent alleging that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school. And only this week did she bother to share it with her Democratic Judiciary Committee colleagues?
And not only that. According to Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer’s explosive New Yorker piece posted Friday morning, those colleagues got wind of the letter’s existence and had been asking her to share it with them “for several days”? What did she say? My dog ate it?
Mind-boggling. Here we were, in late July, two weeks after Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Mitch McConnell had yet to announce the confirmation hearing dates, which he announced on Aug. 9. But obviously, in late July, the Democrats were well aware that they had the fight of their lives on their hands; that they were outnumbered and would need something huge. And here is Feinstein, the ranking member of the committee, holding that something in her hands.