Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he had a “long and serious” conversation with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) following backlash from progressives over her handling of last week’s Judiciary Committee hearings with Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, with some calling for the California senator to cede her role as the top Democrat on the committee.
“I’ve had a long and serious talk with Senator Feinstein. That’s all I’m going to say about it right now,” Schumer told reporters at a news conference on Oct. 20.
Feinstein sparked a strong reaction from some liberal groups after she praised Republicans for their organization of the hearings, which ended Oct. 15, and even hugged Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chair of the Judiciary Committee.
“This has been one of the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in. And I want to thank you for your fairness and the opportunity of going back and forth. It leaves one with a lot of hopes, a lot of questions and even some ideas—perhaps some good bipartisan legislation we can put together to make this great country even better,” she told Graham at the conclusion of the last hearing.
On Oct. 21, the California senator also hailed Barrett’s explanation of a legal doctrine, saying she was “really impressed.” Still, Feinstein pressed Barrett on a number of issues and said she wouldn’t support her nomination as the confirmation process is so close to the presidential election.
Following Feinstein’s cordial posture during the hearings, calls for her ouster from Democratic leadership were swift and relentless.
“It’s time for Sen. Feinstein to step down from her leadership position on the Senate Judiciary Committee,” said Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, which opposes conservative nominees to the courts. “If she won’t, her colleagues need to intervene.”
Fallon said in a statement that Democrats can no longer be led on the Judiciary panel by someone who treats “the Republican theft of a Supreme Court seat with kid gloves.”
Eli Zupnick, the spokesman for Fix Our Senate, said, “Senator Feinstein is absolutely wrong about what is happening in the Senate and in her Committee.”
He said in his statement that Republicans are trying to push Barrett’s nomination through the Senate and it “should not be treated as a legitimate confirmation process.”
Schumer, speaking to reporters at the press conference, declined to provide any further details about how his conversation with Feinstein went, nor would he say if he would make any changes to the Judiciary Committee.
Feinstein has served in the Senate since 1992.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.