President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans showed no signs of faltering in their support for embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who again insisted Monday that he wanted to clear his name at a public hearing this week after a second allegation of sexual misconduct emerged Sunday night.
As hundreds of protesters gathered at different spots on Capitol Hill to oppose his confirmation, Kavanaugh sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee to say he would not withdraw his nomination and looks forward to the hearing set for Thursday. The federal appeals court judge characterized allegations of sexual misconduct against him as “smears, pure and simple.”
Kavanagh cast himself as making a principled stand for “good people of all political persuasions” who would want to serve but would fear the threat of such “character assassinations.”
“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process,” Kavanaugh wrote. “The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. The last-minute character assassination will not succeed.”
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Republican Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah called for a committee vote after Thursday’s hearing, which will also have testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her decades ago, when he was a 17-year-old high school student.
Fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted that the Supreme Court confirmation process “is being replaced by a game of delay, deception, and wholesale character assassination.” And Trump pushed back against the new allegation of sexual misconduct as “political,” even as the Judiciary Committee began the work of contacting more people who say they have information about Kavanaugh’s past.
“There’s a chance that this could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything,” Trump said on the sidelines of a United Nations conference in New York. “And for people to come out of the woodwork from 36 years ago and 30 years ago, and never mention it, and all of a sudden it happens, in my opinion, is totally political.”
Trump, the White House and Kavanaugh have attacked the latest allegation from Deborah Ramirez — published in The New Yorker on Sunday night — as lacking corroboration. She told the magazine that she was inebriated at a Yale College dormitory party in the 1980s when Kavanaugh exposed himself, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away.
The New Yorker reported it has not confirmed with other eyewitnesses that Kavanaugh was present at the party. A White House aide cited a “damning” excerpt from a New York Times story about its own reporting efforts to confirm Ramirez’s claim.
“The Times had interviewed several dozen people over the past week in an attempt to corroborate her story, and could find no one with firsthand knowledge,” the Times reported in the story that the White House sent to media. “Ms. Ramirez herself contacted former Yale classmates asking if they recalled the incident and told some of them that she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself.”
Kavanaugh, in a statement, said the event did not happen. He said he looks forward to testifying Thursday before the Judiciary Committee to clear his name.
In the meantime, Senate Democrats and liberal advocacy groups have pointed to the new allegation to call for a halt to the confirmation process or for Kavanaugh to withdraw. Protestors rallied on Capitol Hill and outside the state offices of Senate Republicans such as Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona. By late morning Monday, a swarm of protestors lined the hallway outside Flake’s office.
Watch: Anti-Kavanaugh Protesters Swarm Susan Collins’ Office, Arrests Made
Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Chris Coons of Delaware, along with D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and more than 100 Yale Law School students will host a press conference Monday afternoon calling for a delay on a confirmation vote.
“It’s not every nominee that’s been accused of attempted rape,” said Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii. “I think we need to spend the time to make sure we have as much information as we can and the fact that the Republicans are stonewalling just the most basic kind of investigations raises huge questions as to why. I think it’s because they’re afraid of what an investigation would reveal.”
A spokesman for Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa said that the staff will attempt to evaluate these latest claims, including an allegation apparently from a third woman who had information about Kavanaugh’s behavior at parties at high school parties and wanted to testify as well.
“It increasingly appears that [Democrats] are more interested in a political takedown than pursuing allegations through a bipartisan and professional investigative process,” committee spokesman Taylor Foy said.
Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who rose to fame by aggressively taking on President Donald Trump on behalf of his client Stormy Daniels, last night said the third woman wanted to testify but he did not offer any evidence of claims. He said he would bring forward evidence over the next few days.
John T. Bennett and Patrick Kelley contributed to this report.