Kavanaugh tensions linger after bitter fight

Republican and Democratic senators say they’re ready to move on from the fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael Kavanaugh2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests Maker of 'F*ck Trump' lipstick vows to donate proceeds to reproductive rights groups Women's civil rights are not a state issue MORE’s confirmation, but lingering tensions from one of the bitterest fights in recent Senate history are proving difficult to soothe.

Senate Republicans have seized on Kavanaugh to energize their base ahead of the midterm elections, blaming a liberal “mob” for going too far in the Supreme Court battle. 

They’ve said GOP senators were “harassed” and “under assault” during the fight, pointing to incidents at airports, a Washington, D.C., restaurant and the Senate buildings themselves to argue that Democrats are out of control and should not be given power.

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“This body … will not let unhinged tactics replace reasoned judgement. We will not let mob behavior drown out all the Americans who want to legitimately participate in the policymaking process, on all sides,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests MORE (R-Ky.) said Thursday from the Senate floor. “And the Senate, I assure you, will not be intimidated.” 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCollins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Hillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity Trump officials say US efforts to deter Iran have worked MORE (R-Texas), McConnell’s No. 2 and a member of the Judiciary Committee, added that during the November midterm election voters will get to pick between “mob rule” or voting for the “rule of law.” 

The GOP has seized on remarks from Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonNevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests Iowa Democrats brace for caucus turnout surge MORE and former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderEric Holder: 'There are grounds for impeachment' in Mueller report Prosecutor appointed by Barr poised to enter Washington firestorm Dems struggle to make Trump bend on probes MORE to bolster their case. 

Clinton said that “civility” could start again once Democrats win back the House or Senate, while Holder, playing off former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama to headline Essence Festival Obama shares tribute to Michelle to celebrate Mother's Day 111-year-old woman gets free tickets to see Michelle Obama book tour MORE’s “when they go low, we go high" mantra, said that when Republicans “go low, we kick ‘em.” 

The GOP tactics have infuriated Democrats. 

“For them to talk about mob rule — what in the hell was that all about?” said Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinIraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran Muslim lawmakers host Ramadan iftar to break fast at Capitol Let's stop treating student borrowers like second-class citizens MORE (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat and a member of the Judiciary Committee. 

Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoSenate confirms Rosen for No. 2 spot at DOJ Alabama abortion law sparks fears Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade The CASE Act is an opportunity for creators to have rights and remedies MORE (D-Hawaii), another member of the panel, added that McConnell’s rhetoric was “dangerously” underestimating the frustration in the country. 

“It is the richest of ironies that the majority leader has taken to calling those opposed to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh a mob when several nights a month the president whips his supporters into a frenzy to attack his target of choice,” Hirono said. 

Hirono appeared to be referencing a rally in Iowa that Trump held this week, where he appeared to encourage his supporters after they began chanting “lock her up” about Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThis week: Democrats, White House set for infrastructure, budget talks Senate confirms Rosen for No. 2 spot at DOJ Senate confirms controversial 9th Circuit pick without blue slips MORE (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Feinstein has come under fire from Trump and other Republicans who accuse her or her staff of leaking information about Christine Blasey Ford, who in a confidential letter accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when the two were teenagers.

Ford’s name became public after the leak and she eventually testified at a dramatic hearing, nearly torpedoing Kavanaugh’s nomination. 

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCollins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights Women's civil rights are not a state issue MORE (R-Maine), who cast a pivotal vote for Kavanaugh, in her own floor speech last week said she did not believe Feinstein had leaked the information. 

And Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump mulling visit to ethanol refinery later this month: report Nursing home care: A growing crisis for an aging America  Senate chairman says bipartisan health care package coming Thursday MORE (R-Iowa) and Feinstein have signaled a willingness to move on in public.

The two touted their long personal friendship this week, which was struck from decades of Senate service together. 

“I think she is of the same design I am, that we ought to work together. ... I have no animosity and I’m just going to just assume that I’m going to look to the future, forget about the past,” Grassley said. 

Feinstein, asked about her personal relationship with Grassley after Kavanaugh, said it was “fine.” 

The committee had a relatively subdued committee meeting on Thursday, where they advanced several judicial nominations and legislation to make lynching a federal crime. 

The bitterness over judicial nominations did not start with Kavanaugh.  

Democrats were furious when Republicans held up former President Obama’s nomination of Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian Garland2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests Merrick Garland, denied Supreme Court spot, on court set to consider Trump subpoena appeal  Warren calls for Congress to pass federal laws protecting Roe v. Wade MORE in 2016. 

In 2013, Democrats nixed the 60-vote filibuster for most nominations. Republicans got rid of the higher-vote threshold for Supreme Court picks last year to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the court. 

Democrats were angered by Trump’s remarks about Feinstein. 

Durbin called Trump’s rhetoric “disgusting.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said the remarks were “so ludicrous and false that they’re not worth even addressing.” 

Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are still weighing whether to launch a formal investigation into how Ford’s letter was leaked to the public. 

McConnell has indicated that he believes there will be an investigation and members of the Judiciary Committee, including Cornyn and GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress, White House near deal on spending, debt limit Hillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity Roger Stone considers suing to discover if he was spied on by FBI MORE, back digging into the matter. 

But Grassley hasn’t taken a position on holding an investigation and told reporters that he wants to have a meeting with committee members before he makes a decision. 

Asked if the Senate Judiciary Committee could investigate the leaking of Ford’s letter without it becoming partisan, Durbin just started laughing. 

“Is that a real question?” he asked. 

Republicans on the committee brushed off questions about if the panel would be able to move past Kavanaugh. 

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisCollins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Lawmakers call for investigation after census hired registered sex offender Dem Senate campaign arm hits GOP lawmakers over Trump tax law MORE (R-N.C.), a member of the committee, said he thought there wasn’t a risk that lingering animosity from the Supreme Court fight would bleed over into members' personal relationships. 

He said shortly before the final votes on Kavanaugh he was speaking with Feinstein on the floor about immigration reform and talking with Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsMnuchin says carbon capture tax credit guidance will be out soon Mnuchin signals administration won't comply with subpoena for Trump tax returns Menendez, Rubio lead Senate effort to regulate Venezuelan sanctions MORE (D-Del.) about criminal justice reform. 

“It’s interesting with some of the members on the committee, the conservations we were having on the floor before the cloture vote, final confirmation. ... I think at least in that way we’ve compartmentalized it,” Tillis said. 

Cornyn argued the panel didn’t have any other option except to keep working together. 

“What's our choice?” he asked. “I mean, we can't get a divorce.”