We don’t know.
I wrote a leading headline like this because I want to get out in front of the irresponsible speculation on the left currently driving this piece of news around the Democratic Senate Judiciary Ranking Member and the Republican Supreme Court Nominee.
As of right now, we don’t know for certain what this is. No one does—probably not even Dianne Feinstein—as Ryan Grim’s initial report in The Intercept suggests.
The specific content of the document, which is a letter from a California constituent, is unclear, but Feinstein’s refusal to share the letter has created tension on the committee, particularly after Feinstein largely took a back seat to her more junior colleagues last week, as they took over Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings with protests around access to documents.
The letter took a circuitous route to Feinstein, the top-ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. It purportedly describes an incident that was relayed to someone affiliated with Stanford University, who authored the letter and sent it to Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat who represents the area.
Different sources provided different accounts of the contents of the letter, and some of the sources said they themselves had heard different versions, but the one consistent theme was that it describes an incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman while they were in high school. Kept hidden, the letter is beginning to take on a life of its own.
Here’s what we do know for certain:
— Dianne Feinstein received a letter about an incident involving a woman from Kavanaugh’s high school days.
— Feinstein won’t show any Democrats the letter.
— Feinstein referred it to the federal authorities to be investigated.
— The woman who is the subject of the letter is now being represented by Debra Katz, an attorney who has worked with #MeToo survivors.
Does that sound like a senator who’s confident in the accuracy of the document she received? It sure looks like Feinstein is holding on to something that would certainly make headlines, and she’s not sure if it’s factual or not, so she’s playing things close to the vest while she escalates it to those with the capability to ascertain its accuracy.
The #MeToo movement is very clearly hanging over this unknown letter, but connecting the dots before the dots have revealed themselves does a disservice to the immense bravery it took for the countless women who came forward with enough evidence of sexual abuse so as to make their allegations unimpeachable. Until we know more about the credibility of the contents of this letter, suggestive titles that insinuate that amorphous allegations are true, along with accompanying photos of women like this story from Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress are grossly irresponsible. If Brett Kavanaugh does have a history of sexual abuse, we owe it to his potential victim(s) to let the veracity of their story carry the day, not our partisan speculation.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.