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Feinstein 'surprised and taken aback' by suggestion she's not up for Supreme Court fight

Feinstein 'surprised and taken aback' by suggestion she's not up for Supreme Court fight
© AP/Pool

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Overnight Health Care: Pfizer could apply for vaccine authorization by late November | State health officials say they need .4B for vaccination effort | CDC: Blacks, Hispanics dying of COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates Major abortion rights group calls for Democrats to replace Feinstein on Judiciary Committee MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is rejecting suggestions that she is not prepared to handle an upcoming Supreme Court nomination fight.

Democratic sources told Politico in a story published Wednesday that there is concern that Feinstein, 87, is not capable of leading an aggressive push against the Supreme Court nominee President TrumpDonald John TrumpPolice say man dangling off Trump Tower Chicago demanding to speak with Trump Fauci says he was 'absolutely not' surprised Trump got coronavirus after Rose Garden event Biden: Trump 'continues to lie to us' about coronavirus MORE picks to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgFauci says he was 'absolutely not' surprised Trump got coronavirus after Rose Garden event Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Biden owes us an answer on court-packing MORE

“I’m really surprised and taken aback by this. Because I try to be very careful and I’m puzzled by it,” Feinstein told Politico. “My attendance is good, I do the homework, I try to ask hard questions. I stand up for what I believe in.”

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One Democratic senator told Politico under the condition of anonymity that some in the party are pushing for Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Progressive group: Feinstein must step down as top Democrat on Judiciary panel Judiciary Committee sets vote on Barrett's nomination for next week MORE (D-Ill.) or Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSupreme Court battle turns into 2020 proxy war Joe Biden and Democrats are wallowing in dark money — and hypocrisy Senators dial down rhetoric at Barrett hearing after 2018 Kavanaugh brawl MORE (D-R.I.) to serve as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee during the nomination hearings. 

They cited, among other things, the fact that Feinstein waited too long to disclose sexual assault allegations by Christine Blasey Ford against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughMajor abortion rights group calls for Democrats to replace Feinstein on Judiciary Committee Trump rebukes Collins amid difficult reelection fight Supreme Court battle turns into 2020 proxy war MORE.

“She’s not sure what she’s doing,” they said. “If you take a look at Kavanaugh, we may be short two senators because of that. And if this gets [messed] up, it may be the same result.”

The senator added that Feinstein’s performance could “impact a number of seats we can win.”

Democrats are reportedly discussing adjusting the seniority system for next year in case the party wins the Senate, making it so Feinstein does not become chair of the judiciary committee. 

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Feinstein told Politico that she can only do so much to slow the nomination but can’t stop it as long as Republicans stick together.

“Let me say this — I know it’s going to be a fight, I understand that,” she said. “I don’t have a lot of tools to use, but I’m going to use what I have. We can try to delay and obstruct but they can run this process through. That doesn’t mean that we won’t fight tooth and nail.”

The California Democrat has rejected calls from some members of the caucus to expand the Supreme Court and end the filibuster if Democrats flip the Senate.