Dianne Feinstein; Brett Kavanaugh (AP/Salon)

Senate Democrats refer "information" about Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the FBI

"I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination," Dianne Feinstein said in a statement


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Matthew Rozsa
September 13, 2018 9:13PM (UTC)

Senate Democrats are taking their efforts to thwart the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to the next level.

As they issued a call for the Senate Judiciary Committee to delay Kavanaugh's confirmation vote, Senate Democrats announced that they had referred information they had received about Kavanaugh to the FBI, according to CNN.

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While the Democrats did not specify what the information was or why they felt the need to go to the FBI, the involvement of America's premiere crime fighting institution suggests that they believe the information potentially demonstrates criminal conduct by President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick.

"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," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), said in a statement. "And I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities."

White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec objected to the timing of the announcement of the decision to forward the information to the FBI.

"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," Kupec said in a statement. "Not until the eve of his confirmation has Sen. Feinstein or anyone raised the specter of new 'information' about him."

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"Sen. (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," she added.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.), has made it clear through his spokesperson George Hartmann that he would not delay a vote on Kavanaugh.

"Sen. Grassley is aware of Sen. Feinstein's referral. At this time, he has not seen the letter in question and is respecting the request for confidentiality," Hartmann explained. "There's no plan to change the committee's consideration of Judge Kavanaugh's nomination."

The Senate Democrats' decision to refer the information to the FBI could have politically explosive consequences, considering that Trump has regularly blasted the bureau's leadership by claiming that they are biased against him, pointing to the ongoing probe by special counsel Robert Mueller into potential connections between his 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government as an example.

By nominating Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Trump has the potential to shift the court's decision-making to the right for a generation. If the FBI decides to investigate Kavanaugh or charge him with criminal wrongdoing, it is possible that Trump would characterize this as yet another attempt by the bureau to stymie his political agenda.

While it is unclear what Senate Democrats have referred to the FBI, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-R.I.), raised the specter of potential financial problems with Kavanaugh by asking questions about his financial history and inquiring as to whether he has a gambling addiction.

"The American people should feel confident that whomever the president appoints to the Supreme Court would come to the bench without financial obligations that could affect their independence," Whitehouse told Salon on Wednesday about the matter.

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Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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