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Feinstein May Face Ethics Probe Over Leak of Ford Letter

Feinstein Kavanaugh probe ethicsThe investigations into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh appear to have concluded, but other investigations could open into two members of Congress who sought to block his confirmation.

Eight House Republicans have asked for ethics investigations of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Anna Eshoo, as well as the staffs of the two California Democrats. The subject: the leak of the unredacted letter from Christine Blasey Ford accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when the two were teenagers.

“It would shock me if this wasn’t an ethics violation,” Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., one of the House members who signed a letter requesting an ethics probe, told The Daily Signal.

“This was a violation against Dr. Ford, who requested the letter be confidential,” Norman said. “Sen. Feinstein ought to be outraged that it leaked.”

Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, denied in a Monday statement that she or her staff leaked the letter from Ford, 51, a research psychologist and college professor.

“President Trump and Senate Republicans are trying to deflect attention from Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual assault allegations by saying my staff or I leaked the letter from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford—they’re wrong,” Feinstein said in the statement.

Norman said Congress needs answers.

“If Sen. Feinstein didn’t do it, then who did?” Norman asked. “You only have to put people under oath. … This letter didn’t go to 10 people. It went to two people—initially. It should be easy to backtrack from there [to find out] who else gained access to the letter and who leaked it.”

Spokespersons for Feinstein and Eshoo did not respond to phone and email inquiries for this report.

Besides Norman, the seven other House Republicans who sent separate letters to the House and Senate ethics committees are Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona; Steve King of Iowa; Jeff Duncan of South Carolina; Bob Gibbs of Ohio; Ralph Norman of South Carolina; Rod Blum of Iowa; and Louie Gohmert of Texas.

The letters are almost identical, but the letter to the House committee asks for an investigation of Eshoo and the one to the Senate committee asks for an investigation of Feinstein.

The letters read:

Leaking Dr. Ford’s letter was a cynically political act that is damaging to the credibility of the United States Congress. Deliberately outing Dr. Ford without her consent may have a lasting impact on women’s willingness to report future assaults.

Democratic members of Congress and their staffs placed political expediency above the wishes of Dr. Ford. For these reasons, we are calling for an immediate ethics investigation to identify the individuals who are responsible for this breach and take appropriate action.

Both the House and Senate have rules prohibiting disclosure of confidential information.

Ford has said she first contacted Eshoo in July about the assault, which she first said occurred in the early 1980s before specifying 1982. Eshoo delivered her letter to Feinstein.

Ford’s letter likely qualifies as confidential because she requested confidentiality and Feinstein has said she guaranteed confidentiality to her.

Rule 29(5) of the Standing Rules of the Senate states:

Any Senator, officer, or employee of the Senate who shall disclose the secret or confidential business or proceedings of the Senate, including the business and proceedings of the committees, subcommittees, and offices of the Senate, shall be liable, if a Senator, to suffer expulsion from the body; and if an officer or employee, to dismissal from the service of the Senate, and to punishment for contempt.

An employee’s violation of Rule 29(5) is grounds for termination, according to a Senate source, who said this could be a criminal matter since the leak likely violates a memorandum of understanding about information shared between the executive branch and Congress.

The House ethics rules state:

The ‘Privacy Act’ protects the records maintained by government agencies from disclosure, except for specified purposes or with the permission of the person to whom the record pertains.36 Although the statute does permit disclosure ‘to either House of Congress,’ some agencies require Members to show written consent from their constituents before they will release the constituents’ records to the Members. The Privacy Act does not apply to congressional documents. Historically, however, communications between Members and constituents have been considered confidential and should generally not be made public without the constituent’s consent.

Tom Rust, chief counsel and staff director of the House Ethics Committee, and Amanda Maddox, spokeswoman for the Senate Ethics Committee, both declined to comment to The Daily Signal about matters that may come before the committees.

“This is not a small matter,” Norman said. “What if someone had a national security matter, and felt the need to take it only to Sen. Feinstein? There is a public interest at stake that goes beyond this particular document. If you can’t maintain confidentiality with this, what else could be breached?”

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., called for an investigation during an appearance Sunday on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

The chronology of the Ford letter has been an issue.

Ford testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that she provided a July 30 letter to Eshoo, who delivered it to Feinstein.

In the letter, Ford asked that she remain anonymous. The next day, Feinstein confirmed that she would not share Ford’s letter without her consent.

During the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings in early September, no Democrat on the Judiciary Committee raised sexual misconduct as an issue.

However, after the hearing concluded, on Sept. 12, The Intercept reported on the existence of the letter, which previously was known only to Ford, Eshoo, Feinstein, and an unknown number of the lawmakers’ staff members.

On Sept. 13, a week before a scheduled committee vote on sending the Kavanaugh nomination to the Senate floor, Feinstein referred the letter to the FBI.

On Sept. 16, The Washington Post named Ford as making the allegation.

The FBI could have looked into the allegation well before the Kavanaugh hearings began.

Feinstein said she didn’t disclose the letter to Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, because Ford had asked for it to remain private.

However, three days after Feinstein referred Ford’s letter to the FBI, CNN published an unredacted version of the letter.

During her Sept. 27 Senate testimony, Ford said under oath that she didn’t consent to any of the disclosures.

Reprinted with permission from - The Daily Signal - by Fred Lucas

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Kim

What’s going on in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings regarding Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court is a small measure of the vicious rancor that has infected politics in America today. It’s up to our legislators to do something about it, by censure, by new rules, or, preferably, by kicking out the noxious players and withdrawing all benefits they were due. Listening to the dems, and Schumer in particular, and the media spit their vitriol all over us and Kavanaugh’s family without regard for the truth should not be happening in this country. They have made a mockery of presumed innocence, respect for privacy, and cooperative effort that is required to advance our culture. Yes, Feinstein, Harris, and the rest of their crowd, including the 2 lawyers and Ford herself, should be subjected to the highest level of investigation. All of them need to face the consequences of their… Read more »

Jo-Dell Beckham

She and Maxine should be thrown out of Congress. Maxine has called for violence against Republicans and should be tried and convicted. No one should be able to incite riots or call for violence on anyone else. This is a serous matter and action against her should be taken immediately.

Arteest

I am not: a communist, a progressive or a socialist therefore I am not a democrat. DiFi, along with every other D, is the enemy of our republic. Flake is paying dues to the wrong club along with several other R’s. Graham and Kennedy are hero’s of our republic. If Judge Kavanaugh has temperament problems what does Maxine Waters have?

Dean

The FBI needs to investigate whether Dr. Ford was bribed or paid to discredit Judge Kavanaugh. I don’t put in past George Soros having his filthy nose in it!!

James Beckham

Let’s get both Maxine Waters and Feinstein out of office. They are dangerous to our freedom and to our nation. In fact they are dangerous to our well being and safety.

J. Rollinson

If the release of the Dr Ford letter goes without an investigation, the integrity of our government leaders will forever be distrusted. What an example to set.

Poobotz

Will someone please remove this senile old hag from office?

Joe

Who spoke lies untoward. President Trump respected the contemptible demoncrats and let the senate deal with this smear campaign. There were 4 RINOs who thought erroneously that they could appease the demoncrats so they delayed the confirmation, further victimizing a good man and his family. There were precious few who had the conviction to stand up to the demoncrats. There will be no justice served to those demoncrats who slandered this good man with demonstrable lies.

TJ Hope

This should not be a MAY face ethics investigation but a WILL face ethics investigation. However I don’t believe it will happen as she will be protected and will most likely throw Staffer under the bus.

Karen

My question from the beginning has been, if Ford didn’t want the world to know, why on earth would she write a letter to begin with?? Why not just keep you mouth shut over teenage crap, especially when you have no proof. I had the same thing happen to me by the ministers son. But would I ruin his whole life over it? Hell, no!

Janet VandenBerg

I believe that when you go against ethical standards, your disposition goes from honest to dishonest, and then you lie and verbally state you or your staff members didn’t leak this information, you MUST DEFINITELY BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE for your actions and I believe you should also lose your right to vote on this issue. As a U.S. Senator or Representative, Cabinet member, or staff member of the DOJ, FBI, or Attorney General’s office you must explicitly abide by the rules, laws of the government as well as the U.S. Constitution. I believe all of you took an oath of office when sworn in to your position and MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR your UNETHICAL and UNPROFESSIONAL STANDARDS and BEHAVIOR. You all have rules, regulations and Code of Ethics to follow, so why should you not have to abide by these? In today’s society it seems daily certain individuals are… Read more »

Duane

Kavanaugh was good enough and passed multiple FBI investigations to honorably serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. But, now, oh heavens no, not the Supreme court. My God, this is total lunacy! 36-37 years ago! A third of a century! Give me a break. Should have been ignored and thrown out just based on that! THROW THE BUMS OUT! EXPRESS YOUR VOICE AND VOTE!

Evalyn Sherwood

In my opinion Feinstein is no longer capable of her office. When the committee was voting to extend the voting not more than one week while the FBI did it’s investigating a Feinstein staffer had to tell Feinstein how to vote….I ask WHY. Why couldn’t Feinstein vote without being told by her staff how to vote? Is Feinstein no longer capable of making her own decisions. The staffers telling Feinstein how to vote on the extension was seen on TV. Im my opinion, Feinstein didn’t appear lucid during the Kavanagh hearing. Her staff was always writing her notes or whispering in her ear.

Lawrence Greenberg

I hope Judge Kavanaugh sues all 10 Democrat members of the Senate committee for libel and defamation, and I hope he considers bringing criminal charges against the three women who falsely accused him of heinous crimes.

Jory

Doubt if any ethics investigations will occur. I don’t think ethics exist any longer in congress as a whole. The entire process of hearings and obstruction is a disgrace and an embarrassment to our country. Drain the swamp. Restore and protect liberty. That is the only job of the federal government. The government should otherwise stay our of my business.

Irv C

It’s about time some of these left wingnuts get investigated and prosecuted. It’s actually PAST TIME.

willban1

The Senate Ethics Committee has completed their investigation. They found no evidence of ethics in or associated with the Senate.

Dan W.

There once was a woman named Ford;
Who spoke of events untoward;
When Trump came a mocking;
The whole joint was rocking;
Then McConnell said: “ALL ABOARD”.

Susan

We can only hope that the Republicans finally found that backbone for a change!

Ronald Long

A larger issue besides the leaking of the memo is the fact that Senator Feinstein sat on the memo and said nothing to the Judge or the Committee Chairman about its existence. She was ethically bound to report the memo immediately, Dr Fords identity could have been redacted and thus not compromised. Senator Feinstein orchestrated this entire fiasco for political gain, very dishonorable at least, despicable in nature.