Politics & Government

Feinstein’s office receiving ‘threats of bodily and sexual harm against staff’

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office has received threats of bodily and sexual harm against staff — some naming specific employees — following Feinstein’s involvement in allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Feinstein is the second woman senator whose office is reporting such threats. The White House said Thursday Kavanaugh and his wife have also received threats.

The office of Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has also been also receiving ugly calls and emails. Those against Kavanaugh’s nomination have pressured Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Collins, female Senate Republicans who support abortion rights, to vote against his confirmation.

“My office has received some pretty ugly voicemails, threats, terrible things said to my staff,” Collins said in an interview with WVOM in Maine on Wednesday.

The Senate has 51 Republicans. If all 49 senators who caucus with Democrats vote no, two Republican no votes would sink Kavanaugh.

A spokesman for Feinstein, top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said they’ve been getting a significant amount of calls on the issue, with most calls from California being opposed to the Kavanaugh nomination. Those are routine calls taken by staff, but other calls have been threatening.

“Since the allegations about sexual assault became public, we’ve been getting a significant number of calls and emails, mostly from other parts of the country, that have been disrespectful and ugly,” he said. “Calls have included threats of bodily and sexual harm against staff. Emails have come in with threats and highly offensive insults to specific staff members by name.”

Feinstein received a letter in July from constituent Christine Blasey Ford that detailed an alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh in high school. Feinstein chose not to make the letter public because Ford wanted her identity kept confidential, and Feinstein has said that was her priority.

The existence of the letter was later leaked to the press, and attempted contacts from the media motivated Ford to identify herself and detail the allegations Sunday to the Washington Post. Ford is currently considering whether to testify before the Judiciary Committee, an outcome pushed by Republicans while Democrats have called for an FBI investigation.

Ford’s lawyers said she has also been the object of “vicious harassment and even death threats.” Ford was forced to relocate from her home with her family because of those threats, her lawyers told the Judiciary Committee.

Kate Irby: 202-383-6071; @KateIrby