Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court is at risk of unraveling after new sexual misconduct allegations emerged, just as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to hear testimony from a woman claiming he assaulted her in high school.
The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday that Senate Democrats are investigating an incident that allegedly took place during Kavanaugh’s college years at Yale University, involving Deborah Ramirez, 53, a former Yale student. Kavanaugh denied the allegation, and the White House issued a statement saying it stands firmly behind his nomination.
More from Bloomberg.com: White House Considers Draft Order to Look Into Google, Facebook
Separately, Michael Avenatti, the lawyer best known for representing adult film star Stephanie Clifford, who says she had an affair with Donald Trump before he was elected president, said on Twitter that he represents a woman “with credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh.” Avenatti, who has said he’s considering running for president as a Democrat, said on Twitter his client is not Ramirez.
The revelations cast doubt on plans for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing set for Thursday to take testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault at a high school party three decades ago. Kavanaugh, who has denied that claim, is also scheduled to testify.
More from Bloomberg.com: Trump’s Next Tariff Barrage Ready to Roll as China Scraps Talks
The allegations, taken together, raised broader questions about a nominee whose confirmation seemed all but certain two weeks ago. Senate Republicans will now have to decide whether to move ahead with the Thursday hearing, or put Kavanaugh’s nomination on hold.
The Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California, on Sunday night called for postponing any further proceedings relating to Kavanaugh. “I also ask that the newest allegations of sexual misconduct be referred to the FBI for investigation,” she said.
More from Bloomberg.com: China Cancels Trade Talks as New U.S. Tariffs Loom
Staff for Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
How the GOP handles the allegations could sway independent and women voters ahead of November congressional elections, which will determine control of the House and Senate.
The claim reported by the New Yorker dates to the 1983-84 academic school year, when Kavanaugh was a freshman at Yale. Ramirez said Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drunken dormitory party. The offices of at least four Democratic senators have received information about Ramirez’s allegation, the magazine reported on its website.
‘This is a Smear’
Kavanaugh said in the statement about the latest claim that “this alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple.”
White House spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement that the latest allegation is “a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man.” She added: “This claim is denied by all who were said to be present and is wholly inconsistent with what many women and men who knew Judge Kavanaugh at the time in college say."
Ford, the California college professor who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in high school, has been negotiating details of her appearance before the committee on Thursday.
“Despite actual threats to her safety and her life, Dr. Ford believes it is important for Senators to hear directly from her about the sexual assault committed against her,” her lawyers said in a statement.
While Ford agreed to Grassley’s latest terms to come before the panel, her lawyers faced several setbacks after earlier accusing Republicans of “bullying” their client.
“The Committee determines which witnesses to call, how many witnesses to call, in what order to call them, and who will question them,” Grassley’s staff counsel said to Ford’s lawyers and Democratic staff in an email Sunday. “These are non-negotiable.”
Among the witnesses Ford’s lawyers want to testify are Mark Judge, a Kavanaugh high school classmate she says was in the room when the assault occurred, but who’s said he doesn’t recall the party. They also wanted two trauma experts and the polygraph examiner who conducted a lie-detector test on Ford to be called.
Grassley made one concession by agreeing to delay the hearing to Thursday, three days later than Republican leaders wanted and a day later than he’d proposed on Friday. The chairman previously agreed to other requests, including regular breaks, security arrangements, limited press access, and equal time for senators asking questions.
On Sunday evening, Avenatti posted on Twitter an email to the Judiciary Committee in which he accused Kavanaugh of participating in parties where women were given drugs or alcohol that allowed multiple men to have sex with them but offered no evidence and did not identify a victim.
More from Bloomberg.com
- Blasey Ford Beefs Up Legal Team With Bromwich in Kavanaugh Fight
- Republican Allies Warn Trump: Now's Not Time to Fire Rosenstein
- Trump Willing to Meet With Rouhani at UN, Pompeo Says
Read Second Woman Accuses Brett Kavanaugh of Sexual Misconduct on bloombergpolitics.com