What do you do if you're a longtime hard-core liberal Democrat who, from your perch on the Senate Judiciary Committee, led the charge against Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination by pushing a decades-old claim of sexual assault that seemingly came out of nowhere (but you knew about for two months before it "leaked") and then your party's presidential nominee gets hit with a decades-old sexual assault charge that seemed to come out of nowhere?
If you're California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, you change your stance on how alleged victims of long-ago attacks should be treated.
What did Feinstein say?
CNN's Manu Raju asked Feinstein her thoughts on Tara Reade's allegation that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993 when she worked as an aide in Biden's Senate office.
Feinstein said the situation surrounding Ford's allegations against Kavanaugh were "totally different" from Reade's claims against Biden, Raju tweeted.
"Kavanuagh was under the harshest inspection that we give people over a substantial period of time," she said.
Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on Senate Judiciary, argued to us that the Kavanuagh situation is “totally diffe… https://t.co/X6zrd2h69a— Manu Raju (@Manu Raju) 1588880261.0
The Kavanaugh situation was, indeed, different — at least for Feinstein.
During the Kavanaugh hearings and investigation, it was revealed that Feinstein, the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, knew for months about Ford's accusation that Kavanaugh had attacked her 36 years earlier — and the senator said nothing to her GOP counterparts on the committee. Kavanaugh's supporters repeatedly noted the 3 1/2 decades that had passed (and were lambasted for not allegedly not caring about assault victims).
Yet, Feinstein persisted.
During the Kavanaugh hearings, she tweeted in defense of Ford: "Victims must be able to come forward only when they are ready."
President Trump, I've said many, many times that my actions were motivated by Dr. Ford's request for confidentialit… https://t.co/T4H6azbm3d— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@Senator Dianne Feinstein) 1537552231.0
But when Raju confronted her about the Reade allegations, Feinstein had a far different take.
Dismissing Reade, Feinstein said, "And I don't know this person at all who has made the allegations. She came out of nowhere. Where has she been all these years?"
She wasn't done.
After touting Biden's record and calling Reade's attack on him "absolutely ridiculous," Feinstein continued to want to know why Reade didn't say something earlier.
"Why didn't she say something — you know when he was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee or after that?" she said, Raju reported.
"Why didn't she say something -- you know when he was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee or after that?" Feinstein… https://t.co/HzL2kE8qBP— Manu Raju (@Manu Raju) 1588880263.0
Interestingly, Feinstein's dismissive treatment of Reade doesn't jibe with her criticism of Kavanaugh backers' treatment of Ford.
In a Sept. 16, 2018, statement on her Senate website, Feinstein said, "For any woman, sharing an experience involving sexual assault — particularly when it involves a politically connected man with influence, authority and power — is extraordinarily difficult."
She added that Ford's "extremely serious" charges "come at a price for the victim" and that the situation should "be treated with the seriousness it deserves.
On Sept. 18, 2018, Feinstein said that she found "every single piece of information" from Ford to be "eminently credible, sincere and believable" — and she felt that way from the beginning, before an investigation had been done and testimony had been given.
During every step of this process, I’ve found every single piece of information from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford emin… https://t.co/UMHm1S9gcm— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@Senator Dianne Feinstein) 1537307835.0
Then on Sept. 21, 2018, Feinstein noted how terrible Republicans' "dismissive treatment" of Ford truly was. She wrote, "The recalcitrance, stubbornness and lack of cooperation we've seen from Republicans is unprecedented. And candidly, the dismissive treatment of Dr. Ford is insulting to all sexual assault survivors."
The recalcitrance, stubbornness and lack of cooperation we’ve seen from Republicans is unprecedented. And candidly,… https://t.co/zRudIWYGjH— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@Senator Dianne Feinstein) 1537582803.0
In fact, the GOP's treatment of Ford was so terrible, Feinstein tweeted, it was sending a negative message to assault survivors — who, she claimed, were making more and more calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline while Ford was being dismissed by Republican leadership.
The National Sexual Assault Hotline has seen a 57 percent uptick in calls since Dr Ford went public. How the Senate… https://t.co/F0v1sAnS9m— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@Senator Dianne Feinstein) 1537992053.0
The senator — who, again, offered praise for Biden and called Reade's claims an "attack" that was "absolutely ridiculous" when asked about it by Raju — once said she believed the treatment of Ford was a message to victims: Keep your assault stories to yourself. Feinstein demanded that the Senate "send a different message, a message of support."
The terrible treatment of Dr. Ford and Ms. Ramirez by Senate Republicans tells every woman in this country to keep… https://t.co/ZLJ0epeys1— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@Senator Dianne Feinstein) 1538611036.0