Sen. Dianne Feinstein — the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee who held a letter detailing Christine Blasey Ford's allegations for over a month before submitting it to the FBI just days before the committee's vote — was the first Democrat to ask Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh questions after his impassioned and powerful opening statement at the hearing Thursday. Feinstein's series of transparently leading questions and her apparent attempt to shift the blame for the leaking of the Ford allegation have earned her overwhelming criticism from Republicans and other voices on the Right.
Feinstein began by asking Kavanaugh why he isn't calling for an FBI investigation, a question he already addressed in his emphatic declaration of his innocence on all sexual misconduct charges in his opening statement. Unwilling to let her play the obvious political game, Kavanaugh repeated that he has been asking to come forward and clear his name from the first moment Ford's allegation came to light. He asserted that he is willing to do "whatever the committee wants" and reminded Feinstein that the FBI doesn't come to conclusions on such investigations anyhow, but rather simply provides its findings.
Things got particularly heated when Feinstein asked Kavanaugh about the unsubstantiated and highly dubious second and third accusations against him, which include the baseless "gang rape train" allegation from a client of Michael Avenatti, the hyper-partisan lawyer of porn star Stormy Daniels. Kavanaugh responded by slamming the "farce" of the "gang rape" claim and making clear to Feinstein that he was not going to countenance her attempts to criticize him for supposedly not calling for an FBI investigation. Here's one of the more tense moments:
The strongest condemnation of Feinstein and her fellow Democrats at the hearing came from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.
"If you wanted an FBI investigation, you could have come to us," Graham told his Democratic counterparts in a scathing rebuke. "What you want to do is destroy this guy's life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. You've said that, not me... This is the most unethical sham since I've been in politics. And if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn't have done what you've done to this guy."
Particularly egregious was Feinstein's hypocritical lack of urgency over the allegations when she was first made aware of them two months ago, which Republican Sen. Mike Lee also underscored during the hearing:
Many voices on the Right have echoed that criticism:
Other comments by Feinstein during the hearing have brought even more scrutiny on her eleventh-hour revelation of the letter. In trying to shift the blame away from her office for leaking information about Ford's allegation — which Ford initially insisted on keeping anonymous — Feinstein suggested Ford's friends had leaked it, effectively "throwing Ford under the bus":
Correction: A previous version of this article suggested that the FBI provides recommendations to the Senate. The FBI does not provide recommendations; it simply provides its investigative findings.