WASHINGTON (AP) President Donald Trump staunchly defended his embattled Supreme Court nominee against a new allegation of sexual misconduct today, calling the accusations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh totally political.
The president spoke a day after a second allegation emerged against Kavanaugh, a development that further imperiled his nomination to the Supreme Court, forced the White House and Senate Republicans onto the defensive and fueled calls from Democrats to postpone further action on his confirmation.
Trump, at the United Nations for his second General Assembly meeting, called the allegations unfair and unsubstantiated, made by accusers who come out of the woodwork. He also questioned the political motivations of the attorneys representing the women, saying you should look into the lawyers doing the representation.
On Kavanaugh, Trump stressed: I am with him all the way.
The new accusation landed late Sunday in a report from The New Yorker, just a few hours after negotiators had reached an agreement to hold an extraordinary public hearing Thursday for Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses him of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh denies the accusation.
Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway told CBS on Monday that the accusations against Kavanaugh sound like a vast left-wing conspiracy, using rhetoric that echoed Hillary Clintons 1998 description of allegations that her husband, President Bill Clinton, had had affairs.
Trump is suggesting the timing of the New Yorker article is further evidence of what he has been saying privately for days: that the Democrats and media are conspiring to undermine his pick.
The second claim against Kavanaugh dates to the 1983-84 academic year, which was his first at Yale University. Deborah Ramirez described the incident after being contacted by The New Yorker magazine. She recalled that Kavanaugh exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away.
In a statement provided by the White House, Kavanaugh said the event did not happen and that the allegation was a smear, plain and simple.
However, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, called for the immediate postponement of any further action on Kavanaughs nomination.
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee said they would investigate Ramirezs accusation. Taylor Foy, a Judiciary spokesman, complained that Democrats actively withheld information from the Republicans.
He said they appear more interested in a political takedown than a bipartisan process.
The New Yorker said it contacted Ramirez after learning of a possible incident with Kavanaugh. It said that the allegation came to the attention of Democratic senators through a civil rights lawyer. The Democrats then began investigating.
Ramirez was reluctant at first to speak publicly partly because her memories contained gaps because she had been drinking at the time of the alleged incident, The New Yorker reported. After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to speak publicly, the report said.
The Associated Press tried reaching Ramirez at her home in Boulder, Colorado. She posted a sign on her front door, indicating she would have no comment.
Joining the maelstrom, Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her legal fight with Trump, claimed to represent a woman with information about high school-era parties attended by Kavanaugh and urged the Senate to investigate. Avenatti told the AP that he will disclose his clients identity in the coming days and that she is prepared to testify before the committee, as well as provide names of corroborating witnesses.
A White House official not authorized to speak publicly questioned the accusations coming from Avenattis client, saying that the presence of the high-profile attorney who has publicly taken on Trump and is weighing a 2020 Democratic presidential bid makes the proceedings a circus.
The accusation from Ramirez raises the stakes further for a dramatic showdown Thursday, as Kavanaugh and Ford testify in public about an incident she characterizes as attempted rape and that he says simply never happened.
Kavanaughs nomination hangs precariously. A handful of senators in both parties remain undecided on his nomination. Defections among Republicans would likely block his path to the Supreme Court.
The White House is approaching Fords potential testimony with trepidation, nervous that an emotional appearance might not just damage Kavanaughs chances but could further energize female voters to turn out against Republicans in November.
Still, the White House and Republicans have cast doubt on Fords allegations. The Judiciary panel said it had talked to three other people whom Ford has told The Washington Post were at the party where the alleged assault took place Mark Judge, Patrick J. Smyth and Leland Ingham Keyser. All three told investigators that they had no recollection of the evening in question, the committee said.
The Post reported Sunday that Keyser said in a brief interview at her home that she still believes Ford, even if she doesnt remember the party.
Kavanaugh plans to turn over to the committee personal calendars from the summer of 1982. Those calendars, he says, dont show a party consistent with Fords description of the gathering in which she says he attacked her, The New York Times reported Sunday. The calendars list basketball games, movie outings, football workouts, college interviews and a few parties with names of friends other than those identified by Ford, according to the Times.
Stay connected to the stories and events that make your community a special place to call home.
Subscriptions start at $14.90/month.View subscription options
- Unmatched coverage of Allen County’s local news and sports, a tradition dating back to 1867
- Compelling portraits of our residents, experienced reporting and thoughtful analysis
- Unlimited online access to iolaregister.com and our archives