WASHINGTON – The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee is calling for a delay in the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in light of new information concerning the judge's nomination.
In a statement released Thursday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced that a letter from an anonymous source reportedly alleging a decades-old incident involving Kavanaugh has been forwarded to the FBI.
"That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision," she said. "I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities."
Meanwhile, the White House has expressed extreme skepticism over the timing of this new information.
"Throughout his confirmation process, Judge Kavanaugh has had 65 meetings with senators—including with Senator Feinstein—sat through over 30 hours of testimony, addressed over 2,000 questions in a public setting and additional questions in a confidential session. Not until the eve of his confirmation has Sen. Feinstein or anyone raised the specter of new 'information' about him," White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement.
Kupec suggested the letter is just the latest attempt by Democrats to derail Kavanaugh's confirmation.
"Senator (Chuck) Schumer promised to 'oppose Judge Kavanaugh's nomination with everything I have,' and it appears he is delivering with this 11th-hour attempt to delay his confirmation," Kupec said.
Despite this latest development, GOP lawmakers indicate the confirmation process will continue according to schedule.
"Senator (Chuck) Grassley is aware of Senator Feinstein's referral. At this time, he has not seen the letter in question, and is respecting the request for confidentiality," George Hartmann, Senate Judiciary Committee spokesman, said in a statement.
"There's no plan to change the committee's consideration of Judge Kavanaugh's nomination," he said.
The Judicial Crisis Network's chief counsel and policy director, Carrie Severino, also said Feinstein's announcement is suspect.
"This has all the indicators of an 11th hour character assassination and a desperate attempt to delay and defeat the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, who has a sterling reputation in his community, his profession, his church and among hundreds of friends, colleagues and co-workers," Severino said.
Republicans are hoping to have the 53-year-old judge confirmed to the high court by Oct. 1, when the 2018-19 term begins.