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Senate panel postpones vote on Brett Kavanaugh until next week

After a committee meeting, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she turned over a mystery letter about the Supreme Court nominee to the FBI.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Sens.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Patrick Leahy are seen at the committee's meeting Thursday on Capitol Hill. Photo Credit: AP/Andrew Harnik

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday postponed its vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until next week as Democrats demanded a longer delay — and then after the meeting turned over a mystery letter about him to the FBI.

But Kavanaugh, 53, a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judge, remains on track to be confirmed to the high court after the Republican majority okayed a final committee vote at 1:45 p.m. on Sept. 20 to approve his nomination and send it to the full Senate.

Meanwhile, the committee also voted to approve and send to the full Senate four judicial nominees for U.S. district courts covering Long Island, three candidates for federal judgeships in Manhattan and one for upstate courts.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) issued her surprise statement about the mystery letter after the committee meeting, during which Republicans voted down Democrats’ motions to issue subpoenas for witnesses and for Kavanaugh’s records as President George W. Bush’s staff secretary from 2003 to 2006.

“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, and I have honored that decision,” Feinstein said.

“I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities,” she added, referring to the FBI, according to The Washington Post.

Feinstein refused to divulge any more information about the letter.

Her statement came after The Intercept and BuzzFeed reported that the author of the letter originally sent it to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who then gave it to Feinstein. The letter, those reports said, mentions a high school incident involving Kavanaugh.

White House spokeswoman Kerri Kupec issued a statement dismissing the letter.

“Not until the eve of his confirmation has Sen. Feinstein or anyone raised the specter of new ‘information’ about him.” Kupec said, noting that Kavanaugh sat through two long days of questioning and submitted responses to hundreds more written questions.

“Throughout 25 years of public service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has thoroughly and repeatedly vetted Judge Kavanaugh, dating back to 1993, for some of the most highly sensitive roles,” Kupec said.

Democrats have scrambled to mount a challenge to Kavanaugh, but they have not succeeded in luring the two Republican votes they need to stop him from moving on to the Supreme Court.

They bitterly complained about a “tainted and unfair” process, in which they said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) had run roughshod over their attempts to get records and conduct interviews to determine if Kavanaugh had testified truthfully in his confirmation hearings in 2004 and 2006.

By large margins — including some unanimous approvals — the panel voted to advance the nominations of Gary Richard Brown, Diane Gujarati, Eric Ross Komitee and Rachel P. Kovner to be district court judges in the Eastern District of New York, which includes Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

The committee also approved the nomination of U.S. District Court Judge Richard Sullivan to sit on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers New York, Connecticut and Vermont.

No full Senate vote has been scheduled.

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