WASHINGTON— Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said she ‘‘absolutely’’ favors reopening an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh if her party takes control of the chamber next year.
Feinstein, who is in line to become chairwoman of the committee if Democrats prevail, was asked about the prospect during a debate Wednesday in San Francisco as she seeks reelection to the Senate.
‘‘Oh, I’d be in favor of opening up the allegations. Absolutely,’’ Feinstein said.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation proceedings were roiled by allegations of decades-old misconduct from three women, including Christine Blasey Ford, who testified to the Judiciary Committee that a drunken Kavanaugh assaulted her while both were in high school. Kavanaugh vigorously denied all allegations.
Republicans quickly pushed back on Feinstein’s suggestion that more scrutiny is needed.
‘‘Apparently one kick of a mule is not enough for Senator Feinstein,’’ Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said during an appearance Wednesday night on Fox News’s ‘‘Hannity’’ show.
‘‘Here’s what I want every Democratic candidate for the Senate to be asked tomorrow: Do you agree with Dianne Feinstein?’’ Graham said. ‘‘Are you for more humiliation, degrading treatment of this fine man? Are you for continuing this debacle?’’
Feinstein was criticized by many of her Republican colleagues for not sharing a letter she received from Ford in July that outlined her allegations. Feinstein said she honored a request from Ford to remain anonymous until her name leaked out.
Feinstein faces another Democrat, Kevin de León, the president pro tempore of the California state Senate, in next month’s election. Under the rules of California’s ‘‘jungle’’ primary, the top two finishers advance to the general election regardless of party.
Conservative groups funded training for law clerks
WASHINGTON — The closed-door “training academy” was aimed at a select group: recent law school graduates who had secured prestigious clerkships with federal judges. It was organized by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative group that has played a leading role in moving the courts to the right, and it had some unusual requirements.
“Generous donors,” the application materials said, were making “a significant financial investment in each and every attendee.” In exchange, the future law clerks would be required to promise to keep the program’s teaching materials secret and pledge not to use what they learned “for any purpose contrary to the mission or interest of the Heritage Foundation.”
The conservative legal movement has long cultivated law students and young lawyers, partly to ensure a deep bench of potential judicial nominees.
The Heritage Foundation, along with the Federalist Society, helped compile the lists of potential Supreme Court nominees from which President Trump chose his two appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
But legal experts said the effort by Heritage to train and influence law clerks raised serious ethical questions and could undermine the duties the clerks have to the justice system and to the judges they will serve.
“Law clerks are not supposed to be part of a cohort of secretly financed and trained partisans of an organization that describes itself on its own Web page as ‘the bastion of the American conservative movement,’” said Pamela S. Karlan, a law professor at Stanford. “The idea that clerks will be trained to elevate the Heritage Foundation’s views, or the views of judges hand-picked by the foundation, perverts the very idea of a clerkship.”
In a brief interview Tuesday, Breanna Deutsch, a spokeswoman for Heritage, declined to answer detailed questions about the event.
“It’s a private program, and that’s the way we’d like to keep it,” she said. “Word did leak out a little bit about it, which is fine, but it’s going to remain a private program.”
A few hours later, Heritage deleted the references to donors, secrecy, and loyalty from the application materials it had posted on its website. Deutsch did not respond to a request for an explanation and to other questions about the program.
In an e-mail, she confirmed that the program, scheduled for early February, would proceed.
New York Times
Pelosi faces growing opposition in her party
WASHINGTON — Since minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, announced her intent to run for speaker of the House should Democrats retake the majority in 2019, dozens of candidates have come out against the first woman to hold that office.
Democratic opposition to Pelosi has ranged from intending to vote against her to saying that the party needs new leadership to saying they will look at all of the candidates running for speaker once they are in office.
Of the 266 non-incumbent Democrats running this year, at least 87 have refused to endorse Pelosi or have sidestepped questions about her, according to a Washington Post analysis. Nearly a dozen incumbents have also expressed opposition to Pelosi. Of the 87 opposing Pelosi, 45 percent are running in districts rated ‘‘toss up’’ or safer for Democrats by the Cook Political Report.
Democrats need to net 23 seats to take control of the House, and while a handful of Democrats voted against Pelosi on the floor in 2017, nearly one-third of the Democratic caucus voted against her behind closed doors in late 2016.