Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Friday tore into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's testimony, calling it "aggressive and belligerent."
Feinstein, the Senate Judiciary Committee's ranking Democrat, also criticized Kavanaugh for the partisan rhetoric peppered throughout his fiery statement and answers on Thursday. President Donald Trump's nominee appeared after soft-spoken and tearful testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses him of sexual assaulting her in 1982.
"I have never seen a nominee for any position behave in that manner," Feinstein said during a meeting of the committee, hours before a scheduled panel vote on the judge's confirmation. "Judge Kavanaugh used as much political rhetoric as my Republican colleagues, and what's more, he went on the attack."
Kavanaugh, whose seemingly clear path to the Supreme Court was threatened in mid-September by multiple allegations of sexual misconduct decades ago, was visibly furious and emotional as he delivered a nearly 50-minute polemic at the hearing on Ford's allegation.
He repeatedly and unequivocally denied ever committing sexual assault and alleged. "This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election," Kavanaugh said. The judge, who was a member of the Kenneth Starr's team investigating President Bill Clinton, also called opposition to him "revenge on behalf of the Clintons."
Feinstein on Friday called those accusations "unbelievable."
GOP senators, however, defended Kavanaugh's character and his participation in the confirmation process. "In short, it was the most thorough and transparent confirmation process," said Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Kavanaugh's most outspoken defender on the Senate committee, gave a lengthy and impassioned defense of the judge following Feinstein's remarks. "Everything I know about Judge Kavanaugh screams that this did not happen," he said.
"All I can say about Ms. Ford," Graham added, is that "I feel sorry for her, and I do believe something happened to her, and I don't know when and where, but I don't believe it was Brett Kavanaugh."
Feinstein also took time to respond to Republicans on the committee who had excoriated her for failing to reveal Ford's allegation earlier.
Feinstein's office received a letter from Ford in late July detailing her allegation against Kavanaugh. Ford had requested confidentiality in the letter.
But after Kavanaugh spent dozens of hours before the committee in judicial nomination hearings earlier in September, details from Ford's letter were leaked. Feinstein sent out a statement shortly after saying she had referred the letter to the FBI.
The California Democrat denied that she or anyone in her office leaked the document.
"To my Republican colleagues who are so upset about the time that has passed, let's be clear," Feinstein said. Dr. Ford asked for confidentiality. That's what I did."