The Democratic senator who has known about the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh since July said that she held off on making the allegations public because the accuser had asked her to keep them confidential.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein received a letter from Professor Christine Blasey Ford on July 30, which outlined her assertion that, at a high school party in the 1980s, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her, and put his hands over her mouth.
But she did not make the details public as Kavanaugh’s hearings progressed, and leaks of the allegations caught even other Democrats off guard.
Ford was motivated to write the letter to Feinstein after first meeting with Rep. Anna Eshoo, who told Feinstein about the allegations, the Associated Press reported, based on a dozen interviews with senators, aides and others. Feinstein asked that Ford write her allegations in the letter.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has released the letter which can be read in full here.
Feinstein then felt that she faced a dilemma, AP reported. Telling other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee could risk outing Ford, who had asked that her identity be protected. But withholding the allegations would prevent Kavanaugh from having to answer to significant allegations.
Feinstein’s team considered hiring their own investigator to look at the allegations, but Senate rules mean that both parties on a committee have to consult with each other, AP reported.
Ford had decided in August that she would not go public. She later told the Washington Post that she did not believe her story would affect Kavanaugh’s confirmation and telling the story would be personally painful.
But, even though Feinstein said she kept quiet, details of the allegation began to leak. Judiciary Committee Democrats said that Feinstein should send Ford’s letter, with her name redacted, to the FBI. They were upset that Feinstein had not shared the information.
President Donald Trump has accused Feinstein and the Democrats of “very purposefully” waiting to release the allegations in order to jeopardize Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“Senator Feinstein and the Democrats held the letter for months, only to release it with a bang after the hearings were OVER – done very purposefully to Obstruct & Resist & Delay. Let her testify, or not, and TAKE THE VOTE!,” the president tweeted on Friday.
Kevin de Leon, a Democrat in the California state Senate, said that Feinstein should have confronted Kavanaugh with it at his hearing, AP reported. She could have made the allegation without naming Ford, he said.
But Feinstein would claim she did not have a choice, according to AP.
Ford, who now has gone public with the accusations that seem likely to impact Kavanaugh’s confirmation, is expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.