Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) denied Thursday that she or her staff released the confidential contents of a letter sent by Christine Blasey Ford accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers.
Ford testified she contacted her congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D., Calif.) in July, and to her understanding, her letter was sent to Feinstein's office on July 30. Feinstein did not bring up the letter in any hearings with Kavanaugh but sent a cryptic tweet about having received "information" about Kavanaugh which she had referred to federal authorities, after his confirmation hearing concluded.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said Thursday that, because Ford had said she only gave the letter detailing the alleged assault to her attorneys, Eshoo, and Feinstein, it had to be one of the latter two lawmakers or a member of their staff who leaked it to the media.
"Some of the most significant testimony we heard this morning is Dr. Ford told this committee that the only people to whom she gave her letter were her attorneys, the ranking member, and her Member of Congress," Cruz said. "And she stated that she and her attorneys did not release the letter, which means the only people that could have released that letter were either the Ranking Member and her staff or the Democratic Member of Congress, because Dr. Ford told this committee those are the only people who had it."
Cruz said it was not a proper process, but Feinstein asked to respond and said she kept Ford's letter "confidential" as requested.
"Her greatest fear was realized," Feinstein said. "She's been harassed, she's had death threats and she's had to flee her home."
Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) asked Feinstein directly if she could say her staff did not leak the letter.
"I don't believe my staff would leak it," she said. "I have not asked that question directly, but I do not believe they would."
A beat later, she said, "The answer is no."
"Have you asked your staff?" Cornyn asked.
"I just did," she said, leaning back to speak with a staffer. "[Chief of Staff] Jennifer [Duck] reminds me I've asked her before about it, and that's true."
"Somebody leaked if it wasn't you," Cornyn said.
"I'm telling you I did not," she said. "I was asked to keep it confidential, and I'm criticized for that, too."
She later said it was likely that Ford's friends were the ones who leaked its contents to the press.
"It’s my understanding that her story was leaked before the letter became public," Feinstein said. "She testified that she had spoken to her friends about it and it’s most likely that that’s how the story leaked and that she had been asked by press. But it did not leak from us, I assure you of that."
Ryan Grim of The Intercept, which reported on the letter's contents first, said Feinstein's office was not responsible for the leak in a tweet.
Feinstein's staff did not leak the letter to The Intercept
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) September 27, 2018