Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pushed back on Sen. Ted Cruz’s accusation that she purposefully withheld Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh for political purposes.
Cruz railed against his Democratic colleagues and blasted Feinstein for, in his view, “engaging in a profoundly unfair process” by not referring Ford’s allegations to the FBI. Cruz also accused her staff of leaking Ford’s letter to Feinstein’s office laying out the allegations to the press.
Ford initially sent a letter to her congresswoman, Rep. Anna Eshoo, which was then sent to Feinstein in July. In the accusation, Ford claimed Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her at a house party in the summer of 1982.
Ryan Grim, the reporter from The Intercept who first obtained and publicly wrote about the contents of the letter while keeping Ford anonymous, denied on Twitter that one of Feinstein’s staffers had leaked it to him.
Feinstein asked for a point of personal privilege to respond to Cruz, where she explained the rationale for not sharing the allegations with her Republican colleagues or to the public.
Republicans have routinely accused Feinstein for sitting on Ford’s allegations for six weeks after receiving them, and accused her of weaponizing it to torpedo Kavanaugh’s nomination for political purposes.
“Mr. Chairman, let me be clear. I did not hide Dr. Ford’s allegations. I did not leak her story,” she said. “She asked me to hold it confidential and I kept it confidential as she asked. She apparently was stalked by the press, felt that what happened, she was forced to come forward, and her greatest fear was realized. She’s been harassed.”
Feinstein criticized her Republican colleagues for not calling any additional witnesses other than Kavanaugh and Ford, including any of the three people Ford says were at the party.
During the hearing, Feinstein checked with nearby staffers sitting behind her and disputed the notion that anyone from her staff leaked out Ford’s letter. Feinstein suggested it was possible that friends Ford had confided with could have leaked it.