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 KavanaughLindsey Graham's Faustian bargain Liberal, conservative Supreme Court justices unite in praising Stevens The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment 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: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants GOP rattled by Trump rally Third Kentucky Democrat announces challenge to McConnell MORE (R-Ky.) said Thursday from the Senate floor. “And the Senate, I assure you, will not be intimidated.” 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP wants commitment that Trump will sign budget deal Hillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Senators introduce legislation to boost cyber defense training in high school 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 ClintonPoll: Majority of Democratic voters happy with their choices among 2020 contenders No presidential candidate can unite the country GOP lawmakers speak out against 'send her back' chants MORE and former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderFeds will not charge officer who killed Eric Garner The old 'state rights' and the new state power The Hill's Morning Report — Harris brings her A game to Miami debate 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 ObamaPoll: Michelle Obama most admired woman in the world Former Michelle Obama aide calls for 'honest conversation' about immigration Biden jokes he's ready for a pushup competition with Trump 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 DurbinDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations Senate approves long-delayed tax treaties in win for business MORE (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat and a member of the Judiciary Committee. 

Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Overnight Defense: Woman accusing general of sexual assault willing to testify | Joint Chiefs pick warns against early Afghan withdrawal | Tensions rise after Iran tries to block British tanker Joint chiefs nominee: Trump's transgender policy about 'standards' 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 FeinsteinTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations Hillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei 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 CollinsPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp Trump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report 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 GrassleyScandal in Puerto Rico threatens chance at statehood Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Democrat: Treasury 'acknowledged the unprecedented process' in Trump tax return rejection 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 GarlandDem senators demand GOP judicial group discloses donors John Legend: Republicans play to win, Biden plays to impress the media Biden says he opposes expanding the Supreme Court 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 GrahamScarborough sounds alarm on political 'ethnic cleansing' after Trump rally The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants GOP rattled by Trump rally 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 TillisRepublicans scramble to contain Trump fallout McConnell says Trump is not a racist, but calls for better rhetoric GOP senator: 'Outrageous' to say Trump's tweets about Democratic congresswomen are racist 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 CoonsTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Senate Democrats skipping Pence's border trip GOP chairman introduces bill to force 'comprehensive review' of US-Saudi relationship 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.”