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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 KavanaughGraham vows to push Trump’s AG pick through Judiciary Committee Log Cabin Republicans leader 'not nervous' about conservative Supreme Court impacting LGBT rights Dem pollster says concerns over Kavanaugh were 'merit-based,' not about partisanship 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 McConnellTrump flubs speech location at criminal justice conference Sunday shows preview: Trade talks, Cohen sentencing memo take center stage Trump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform MORE (R-Ky.) said Thursday from the Senate floor. “And the Senate, I assure you, will not be intimidated.” 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynUS-Saudi relationship enters uncharted territory Senate edges closer to rebuking Trump on Saudi Arabia Texas lawmakers introduce legislation aimed at helping border counties identify missing migrants 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 ClintonComey reveals new details on Russia probe during House testimony Clinton among VIPS attending pre-wedding celebrations for daughter of India’s richest man Comey’s confession: dossier not verified before, or after, FISA warrant MORE and former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderTrump on sharing photo of Rosenstein behind bars: 'He should have never picked a special counsel' If the GOP wants to win, it needs to champion the middle class Trump retweets Pence parody account attacking Clinton 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 Obama8-year-old girl goes viral dressing up as hero Michelle Obama Transplanted uterus: Complications on fertility shaming are born Jeb Bush: Trump and Melania ‘really gracious’ following George HW Bush’s death 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 DurbinTrump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform Political opposites come together for Bush funeral Live coverage: Washington honors George HW Bush with state funeral MORE (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat and a member of the Judiciary Committee. 

Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoOvernight Defense: Nauert tapped for UN envoy | Trump teases changes to Joint Chiefs of Staff | Trump knocks Tillerson as 'dumb as a rock' | Scathing report details Air Force failures before Texas shooting Dem senator slams Nauert's lack of 'qualifications' for UN ambassador Dem senator: Party has trouble connecting to people’s hearts, has a ‘tendency to be very left-brain’ 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 FeinsteinSenators want assurances from attorney general pick on fate of Mueller probe Mattis: Investigation into killing of Khashoggi is ongoing Senators introduce resolution saying Saudi crown prince 'complicit' in Khashoggi slaying 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 CollinsSenators want assurances from attorney general pick on fate of Mueller probe 5 themes to watch for in 2020 fight for House Judd Gregg: The last woman standing 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 GrassleyOvernight Health Care: House set to vote on bill targeting drug companies for overcharging Medicaid | Dems press Trump officials on pre-existing conditions | Tobacco giant invests .8B in Canadian marijuana grower House set to vote on bill cracking down on drug companies overcharging Medicaid Trump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform 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 GarlandDebate over term limits for Supreme Court gains new life Roberts’ rebuke of Trump rings hollow, given justices’ conduct Heads up, GOP: Elections have consequences 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 GrahamUS-Saudi relationship enters uncharted territory Trump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform Overnight Defense: Nauert tapped for UN envoy | Trump teases changes to Joint Chiefs of Staff | Trump knocks Tillerson as 'dumb as a rock' | Scathing report details Air Force failures before Texas shooting 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 TillisTrump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform Overnight Energy: Senate confirms controversial energy pick | EPA plans rollback of Obama coal emissions rule | GOP donor gave Pruitt K for legal defense Senate confirms Trump’s controversial energy pick 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 CoonsOvernight Defense: Washington bids farewell to George H.W. Bush | Senators offer resolution calling Saudi prince 'complicit' in Khashoggi killing | US Navy sails near Russia-claimed waters Brady amends his tax package to help nonprofits Coons: McConnell is trying to shield Trump by blocking Mueller protection bill 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.”