Tensions do not appear to be abating in the feud between President Donald Trump and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
On the contrary, the battle seems to be intensifying as efforts by the White House to fill vacancies in the circuit courts have sparked backlash from Feinstain and fellow Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris who argue that they were not consulted on court picks in their state of California.
President Donald Trump will be nominating candidates for three California vacancies on the 9th Circuit, the White House announced last week, according to The Hill.
The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit has come against Trump in the past, ruling against his controversial travel ban and the administration’s attempt to cut off federal funding for so-called “sanctuary cities.”
Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, along with Harris, a potential 2020 presidential contender, are now complaining they were left out of the selection process for the court picks.
“I repeatedly told the White House I wanted to reach an agreement on a package of 9th Circuit nominees,” Feinstein said in a statement. “The White House moved forward without consulting me, picking controversial candidates from its initial list and another individual with no judicial experience who had not previously been suggested.”
The administration’s decision “reflects President Trump’s desire to remake the court,” Feinstein argued.
Fresh off the bitter battle over the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, clashes continue between Trump and the 85-year-old California Democrat, who is up for reelection this year. The president targeted Feinstein in several rallies recently, accusing her of “disgraceful behavior” over Kavanaugh’s nomination and suggesting again that she was the one who leaked a letter from Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford – an allegation the senator has denied.
“We have spent nearly two years attempting to engage constructively with the Senators regarding the growing number of judicial vacancies tied to California,” White House counsel Don McGahn said in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley last week, arguing that he tried to work with Feinstein and Harris.
“In fact, we have made more attempts to consult and devoted more time to that state than any other in the country,” he said in the letter obtained by The Hill.
It was not clear if the 9th Circuit nominees, Patrick Bumatay, Daniel Collins and Kenneth Kiyul Lee, would be moved through by Grassley after being formally submitted to the Senate – despite Feinstein’s objections. Grassley has warned he won’t allow Democrats to “abuse” the blue slip rule which allows a senator to stop a lower-court nominee in their home state by refusing to return a sheet of paper – blue slip – to the Judiciary Committee.
McGahn complained about the lack of “constructive” feedback he he received from the senators despite multiple meetings,adding that Harris refused to “engage with the White House at any level, whatsoever on the issue.”
“At a certain point, we just have to nominate people,” White House spokesman Raj Shah told The Los Angeles Times.
Harris vowed to fight.
The Trump Administration is trying to pack the courts for years to come. We will fight this. https://t.co/d1bOOVDtMJ
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 14, 2018
Feinstein joined other Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats in a letter to Grassley complaining about nomination hearings being held while the Senate is in recess.
Republicans have scheduled a hearing on judicial nominees while the Senate is in recess. Scheduling a hearing for controversial nominees during a recess when members are unable to attend is unprecedented and further demonstrates Republican efforts to pack the courts. pic.twitter.com/e1DEfSF2QH
— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) October 15, 2018