Well, there are two theories.

1. Just like Christine Blasey Ford told WaPo yesterday, she didn’t want to come forward. She knew it would quickly make her the most hated woman in red-state America if she did. So Democrats honored her request for privacy for most of the summer, and probably quietly wondered whether there was really anything at all to the allegation. But then, it seems, with Kavanaugh on a glide path to confirmation, some desperate Dem in Feinstein’s orbit leaked the letter Ford had sent back in July, causing a media stampede to her door. The leaker, not Ford, used this as a Hail Mary to try to win the “block Kavanaugh” game with Team Blue down in the final seconds, regardless of what it might mean for Ford’s privacy. It was a desperation move, a “break glass in case of emergency” option and something they’d hoped to avoid by nuking Kavanaugh on other grounds.

2. It was always meant to go down this way. A last-minute hit would discombobulate the GOP like nothing else. But Ford and her Democratic pals knew that it would seem way too convenient for her to emerge out of nowhere on the eve of the confirmation vote with a story about rape. So they had her send a letter in July and then put it in a drawer for use at the right moment. It’s a well-planned, well-executed bit of ratf*cking. I think that’s what McConnell’s getting at in the clip below. After all, why not at least ask Kavanaugh about the allegation during the confirmation hearing? Answer: To maximize the surprise later.

Both theories have problems. An obvious problem with the first is that Ford sought out the Democrats with her allegation and must have assumed that it would leak eventually given its value to the “block Kavanaugh” effort. She must also have realized that the letter would be all but worthless to the left unless she put her name to it publicly. What were they supposed to do with an allegation from an anonymous person? The idea that Ford was an accuser so reluctant to speak that she was prepared to sit back and let Kavanaugh be confirmed, even after writing a letter accusing him of attempted rape, until a Dem leaker forced the issue just doesn’t add up. There had to be some deliberation in the timing of the release.

There are problems with the second theory too, though. Per WaPo, Ford sent her letter to Democrats (and a tip to the Post itself) before Kavanaugh was even nominated. He was still a shortlister at the time. And it’s not clear at all that a last-second revelation about this hurts Kavanaugh as much as revealing it back in July would have. Imagine an entire summer spent chattering about attempted rape and #MeToo. Imagine Democrats using the confirmation hearing as a nationally televised platform to batter the nominee about his supposed behavior. That might have shaken Collins and Murkowski loose. Although the last-second nature of the accusation has potency as a blindside hit to Kavanaugh and the GOP, it also reeks so strongly of a desperate last-ditch smear that it’s easy for fencesitters to dismiss it on those grounds. If in fact Dems would have been better off if the charge had been made sooner, then you’re back to theory one — Feinstein sincerely was wary of violating Ford’s privacy by outing her. Or, alternately, she was wary of staking the Democratic case against Kavanaugh on a claim as flimsy as Ford’s until it was absolutely necessary.

Here’s McConnell questioning the timing followed by Schumer pushing the new Democratic line: This should be investigated by the FBI, not the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republicans can’t be trusted to probe this matter impartially since they’ve already said they believe Kavanaugh, Schumer notes — just minutes after stressing that he believes Kavanaugh’s accuser. Demanding an FBI investigation is, of course, a demand for more time, in the hope that either more women will come forward or that the public will sour on Kavanaugh sufficiently that Collins and Murkowski will get cold feet.