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Sen. Dianne Feinstein referred a letter relating to Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the FBI for investigation.
“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,” the California Democrat said in a statement released on Thursday.
“I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities,” she continued.
The Hill reported that over the past two days Feinstein, who is the senior Democrat member on the Judiciary Committee, has declined to answer Capitol Hill reporters’ questions about the letter.
She has also refused to share the contents of the letter — which was reportedly first given to her by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. — with fellow members of the Judiciary Committee, according to The Intercept.
“Different sources provided different accounts of the contents of the letter, and some of the sources said they themselves had heard different versions, but the one consistent theme was that it describes an incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman while they were in high school. Kept hidden, the letter is beginning to take on a life of its own,” the news outlet reported.
The woman who is the subject of the letter is being represented by Debra Katz, an attorney who works with #MeToo victims.
The New York Times reported that two officials familiar with the contents of the letter told the paper the incident involved possible sexual misconduct.
Judiciary Committee member Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, responded with apparent skepticism about the development.
“Let me get this straight: this is statement about secret letter regarding a secret matter and an unidentified person. Right,” he tweeted on Thursday.
Let me get this straight: this is statement about secret letter regarding a secret matter and an unidentified person. Right. https://t.co/G6qVWdITbo
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) September 13, 2018
Cornyn told CNN that the move “smacks of desperation to me.”
In a statement on Thursday, the FBI said it has received Feinstein’s referral and included the letter in Kavanaugh’s background check file.
The Hill reported that a bureau official confirmed no criminal investigation has been opened into the matter.
A committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination is slated for next Thursday, Sept. 20, with a full Senate vote expected by the end of the month.
George Hartmann, a spokesman for Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, said the senator is aware of Feinstein’s referral.
“At this time, he has not seen the letter in question, and is respecting the request for confidentiality,” Hartmann stated. “There’s no plan to change the committee’s consideration of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.”
The White House responded Thursday:
White House responds to reports of Kavanaugh letter. "Not until the eve of his confirmation has Sen. Feinstein or anyone raised the specter of new ‘information’ about him." pic.twitter.com/AH0uRDP7Nz
— John Fritze (@jfritze) September 13, 2018