Multiple Democratic senators are concerned about whether Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein is up to the task of what is expected to be a bruising fight on President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, according to a bombshell report.
The report alleges that a group of Democratic senators, speaking anonymously to Politico, have grown deeply concerned that with Feinstein (D-Calif.) at the helm of the vastly influential committee, she will deliver a repeat of her performance during the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The 87-year-old senator served as the leading Democrat on the Judiciary Committee during the intense and contentious hearing for Kavanaugh, during which she faced considerable scrutiny for her timeline of events in responding to sexual assault accusations against the then-nominee.
Feinstein was notified by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) in July 2018 about Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation against the nominee.
Still, the powerful California Democrat waited weeks before notifying other lawmakers or the public about the allegations, infuriating senators on both sides of the aisle.
Speaking on condition of anonymity to Politico, multiple Democratic senators voiced their concern that Feinstein could mishandle yet another Supreme Court process, which could in turn hurt the party in 2020.
“She’s not sure what she’s doing. If you take a look at Kavanaugh, we may be short two senators because of that. And if this gets [messed] up, it may be the same result,” one of the senators said of their California colleague, adding, “I think it could impact a number of seats we can win.”
A second senator echoed concerns over Feinstein, saying Democrats have discussed making changes to the seniority system purely due to concerns over her taking over the Judiciary Committee if the party retakes the Senate.
Discussing what party leaders could do, the senator said top Democrats were “in an impossible position.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), according to the source, cannot replace a female senator for hearings on a female nominee to replace a female Supreme Court justice and liberal icon.
“She can’t pull this off,” a third Democratic senator told the outlet.
As for who would take her place on the committee, the first senator told the outlet that a group of Feinstein’s colleagues have been discussing Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) or Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) as possibilities.
Reached for comment by Politico, Feinstein was surprised by the pushback on her job performance.
“I’m really surprised and taken aback by this. Because I try to be very careful and I’m puzzled by it. My attendance is good, I do the homework, I try to ask hard questions. I stand up for what I believe in,” the octogenarian lawmaker remarked.
As the country mourned the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, the commander-in-chief and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said they would move forward on a vote for her replacement before the election on Nov. 3.
Currently, Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, meaning the Kentucky Republican could afford to lose three GOP senators and still get the nominee confirmed by having Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote.
The top Senate Republican managed to get all but two members of his party — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — to fall in line and pledge to support a vote on the eventual nominee.
Despite having the votes, McConnell is still expecting a brutal fight to the finish line for whomever the president nominates.
Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday after winning the support of one final GOP holdout, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), McConnell was ominous about his expectations.
“Two years ago, a radical movement tried to use unproven accusations to ruin a man’s life because they could not win a vote fair and square. Now they appear to be readying an even more appalling sequel. This time, the target will not just be the presumption of innocence for one American, but our very governing institutions themselves,” the GOP leader said.
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