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As Senate panel sets vote on Trump court pick, new controversy arises

FILE PHOTO: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the third day of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Alex Wroblewski/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the third day of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Alex Wroblewski/File Photo

WASHINGTON — The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday set a vote for next week on President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court pick while a Democratic senator said she sent unspecified new information about nominee Brett Kavanaugh to “federal investigative authorities.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s top Democrat, said she had received the information about Kavanaugh from an person she declined to identify. In a statement, Feinstein did not specify the nature of the information.

The New York Times, citing two people familiar with the matter, reported that the information related to “possible sexual misconduct” involving Kavanaugh and a woman when they both were in high school.

Feinstein said the person who provided the information “strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”

White House spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Kavanaugh has repeatedly been vetted by the FBI. “Not until the eve of his confirmation has Senator Feinstein or anyone raised the specter of new ‘information’ about him,” Kupec added.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Kavanaugh on the allegation.

In party-line votes, the committee’s Republicans rejected motions by Democratic senators seeking access to more documents relating to Kavanaugh’s service in the White House under Republican President George W. Bush more than a decade ago.

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The Republican-led committee agreed to vote on the nomination on Sept. 20, with a final Senate confirmation vote likely by the end of the month.

“I don’t understand the rush to judgment. I really do not,” Feinstein said.

Kavanaugh, a conservative federal appeals court judge nominated by Trump to the lifetime position on the high court, made no major missteps in two days of questioning by senators during his confirmation hearing last week.

Democrats have said they want to learn more about whether Kavanaugh played a significant role in controversial policy debates in the Bush White House, including those relating to the treatment of detainees held after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Kavanaugh worked in the White House from 2001 to 2006.

Trump’s fellow Republicans control the Senate by a narrow margin. With no sign yet of any Republicans planning to vote against Kavanaugh, he seems poised to win confirmation despite Democratic opposition.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

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