Feinstein explains decision to keep letter making claims against Kavanaugh private
© Anna Moneymaker

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate Dems urge Trump to continue nuclear arms control negotiations after treaty suspension Senate Intel leaders ask judge not to jail former aide amid leak investigation Dems demand Pompeo brief Congress on whether he discussed Assange with Ecuadorian official MORE's (D-Calif.) office on Friday defended the senator's decision not to publicize information regarding allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

A spokesperson for Feinstein said the woman who accused Kavanaugh "did not want this information to be public."

"The senator took these allegations seriously and believed they should be public," the statement read. "However, the woman in question made it clear she did not want this information to be public. It is critical in matters of sexual misconduct to protect the identity of the victim when they wish to remain anonymous, and the senator did so in this case."

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The letter, which reportedly details an incident between Kavanaugh an unknown woman when the two were in high school, was reportedly first given to Rep. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooRepresenting patients’ voices Dem lawmaker: 'There's plenty of competent females' that can be Speaker instead of Pelosi Heritage: Repealing GOP tax law would raise taxes in every district MORE (D-Calif.). Feinstein has declined to answer questions about the letter's contents, since it came to light on Wednesday. 

Kavanaugh on Friday denied an allegation of sexual misconduct, a day after Senate Democrats said they had referred the incident to the FBI, which confirmed that it received the letter on Thursday. 

A government official on Thursday confirmed that a criminal investigation has not been opened into the matter.

The statement from Feinstein's office comes as the senator faces criticism for her handling of the letter from her progressive challenger, Kevin de León.

De León took aim at Feinstein for not bringing up the allegations sooner.

“The American people deserve to know why the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee waited nearly three months to hand this disqualifying document over to federal authorities,’’ De León said in a statement provided to Politico Friday.

“And why Senator Feinstein politely pantomimed her way through last week’s hearing without a single question about the content of Kavanaugh’s character.”

The allegations against Kavanaugh come less than a week after the Supreme Court pick finished a heated days-long confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.