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Sen. Hirono deflects question on whether Democrats leaked accuser's letter about Kavanaugh

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) awaits the start of a Judiciary Committee hearing for testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during a party in 1982 when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. (Photo by Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images)

Sen. Mazie Hirono deflected a question Sunday about whether she believes Democrats did not strategically leak Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Hirono, a Democratic senator from Hawaii, is one of Kavanaugh’s biggest critics.

What happened?

On ABC's "This Week," host George Stephanopoulos asked Hirono: "Are you confident the Democrats didn’t leak that letter, and how do you respond to Senator [Lindsey] Graham’s charge that it was inappropriate for the Democrats to refer Dr. Blasey Ford to a lawyer?"

Hirono responded: "All of these things do not focus on what we should be focusing, which is the credibility of Judge Kavanaugh."

She also said claims of a conspiracy against him are bizarre.

"And, by the way, even as all of these accusations about this being politically motivated are being tossed around, everyone acknowledges, including Judge Kavanaugh, that Dr. Ford is not being politically motivated," Hirono said. "That is very clear."

In July, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) received a letter from Kavanaugh’s key accuser, Ford, that alleged he attacked her at a house party in the 1980s. Feinstein’s office immediately recommended Ford retain a prominent liberal lawyer, according to reports.

Hirono’s “non-answer” could be used by Republicans who are seeking answers on how Blasey Ford’s letter wound up at the The Intercept news outlet, Fox News reported.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and others have suggested the move was orchestrated by Democrats.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday, Feinstein was questioned about but denied leaking the letter.

"Well, I'm telling you I did not," Feinstein said.

She also said: "It's my understanding that [Ford's] story was leaked before the letter became public and she testified that she had spoken to her friends about it, and it's most likely that that's how this story leaked ... But it did not leak from us, I assure you that."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and other Republicans said last week that Feinstein did not follow committee protocols when she received the information. That includes notifying her colleagues or federal authorities about the accusations, even if they were to be kept confidential.

What's next?

The FBI already did a background check but is now investigating the allegations against Kavanaugh. The agency's report is due Friday. President Donald Trump has said the FBI is free to interview anyone it sees fit.

Hirono has suggested the FBI’s investigation into Kavanaugh should not be limited to a week.

One last thing…
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