The White House is denouncing a new allegation of sexual misconduct against federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.
The New Yorker magazine reported late Sunday that two U.S. senators are investigating a woman’s charge that Kavanaugh exposed himself at a Yale University dormitory party during the 1983-1984 academic year. 53 year old Deborah Ramirez described the incident in an interview after being contacted by the magazine and said that Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face and caused her to touch it without her consent as the pushed him away.
White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec released a statement denouncing the report. “This 35-year-old uncorroborated claim is the latest in a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear a good man down,” said Kupec. “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. The White House stands firmly behind Judge Kavanaugh.”
Ramirez admitted to New Yorker reporters Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer that she had been drinking and that she has gaps in her memories. But after consultation with a lawyer, Ramirez told the magazine she felt confident enough in her recollection that it happened.
Kavanaugh has denied the allegation made by Ramirez in a statement released through the White House, calling it “a smear, plain and simple.”
The New Yorker says it could not find any witnesses.
Several of Kavanaugh’s Yale classmates say he would never have done such a thing. But some of Ramirez’s classmates vouch for her integrity and recall seeing Kavanaugh “frequently and incoherently drunk.”
An aide to one of the senators investigating the story said, the “allegations seem credible and we’re taking them very seriously. If established, they’re clearly disqualifying.”
The new allegations have prompted a key senator to call for “an immediate postponement” of any further proceedings by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering Kavanaugh’s nomination. California’s Diane Feinstein, the committee’s top Democrat, sent a letter Sunday to Republican chairman Charles Grassley urging him to refer the new allegations to the FBI in order to ensure “a fair, independent process that will gather all the facts.”
The woman who has accused Kavanaugh of a 1982 sexual assault has agreed to testify before the Judiciary committee Thursday morning.
Details on exactly under what conditions Christine Blasey Ford will tell her story are still being worked out.
Reports say her lawyers — Debra Katz, Lisa Banks and Michael Bromwich — agree Ford will go first, to be followed by Kavanaugh.
The three lawyers are not pleased with but agree to the committee’s decision not to call any other witnesses. They include Kavanaugh’s friend, Mike Judge, who Ford says was in the room when the alleged sexual attack occurred.
“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,” the lawyers said in a statement. They noted that other witnesses are “essential for a fair hearing.”
Also to be worked out is exactly who will question Ford. There are 21 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee — 11 conservative Republican men and 10 Democrats.
“Various senators have been dismissive of her (Ford’s) account and should have to shoulder their responsibility to ask her questions,” Ford’s lawyers say.
WATCH: Kavanaugh Accuser Expected to Testify
But Republicans do not want to look as if they are badgering a woman who claims to be the victim of a sexual assault just weeks before congressional elections with control of Congress at stake.
In his statement Sunday, Kavanaugh said he is looking forward “to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name — and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building–against these last-minute allegations.”
Kavanaugh is President Trump’s choice to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court created by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.
His confirmation by the Republican-controlled Senate seemed assured until Ford said in a Washington Post interview that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a house party when they were in high school in Maryland and she was 15 years old.
According to Ford, a drunken 17-year-old Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and tried to tear her clothes off. She says he put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. Ford says she feared Kavanaugh might inadvertently kill her before she managed to get away.
Kavanaugh has denied sexually abusing anyone at any time in his life. A number of women who know and him and worked with him throughout his legal career have said he has been totally respectful toward them.
Trump has questioned Ford’s account, tweeting Friday that “if the attack …was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed” with police.
The tweet has prompted an outpouring of testimonials by self-described sexual assault survivors under the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, and a rebuke from a key Republican.
The White House has called Kavanaugh’s character and legal qualifications impeccable.
Capitol Hill correspondent Michael Bowman contributed to this report.