Brett Kavanaugh decries accusers 'character assassination'


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Media captionDonald Trump says sexual misconduct claims against his Supreme Court nominee are “totally political”.

US President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court has said he will “not be intimidated into withdrawing” amid sexual misconduct allegations.

In a letter to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Brett Kavanaugh vowed “last-minute character assassination will not succeed”.

He spoke out a day after a former Yale University classmate said he once exposed himself to her at a party.

The judge has already denied trying to rape a girl at a 1980s party.

His first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, will give evidence to the committee on Thursday, followed by rebuttal testimony from Judge Kavanaugh.

What is Judge Kavanaugh saying?

The Supreme Court nominee strongly denied the latest allegation in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He called the accusation “grotesque and obvious character assassination”.

“The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out,” he wrote.

“The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. The last-minute character assassination will not succeed.”

He labelled the allegations “smears, pure and simple”.

An interview with Mr Kavanaugh and his wife, Ashley, is set to air on Fox News on Monday night, according to US media.

What is the new claim?

On Sunday, Deborah Ramirez, a Yale university classmate of Brett Kavanaugh, told the New Yorker that he had exposed himself to her at a dormitory party in the early 1980s.

“I remember a penis being in front of my face,” she said. “I knew that’s not what I wanted, even in that state of mind.”

Ms Ramirez, 53, said she ended up touching the man’s genitals while attempting to push him away.

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Media captionWhy it can take sexual assault allegations years to come out

She says she remembers Brett Kavanaugh standing next to her and laughing as he pulled up his pants.

The article says Ms Ramirez acknowledges gaps in her memory caused by alcohol that night.

The New York Times said it had been unable to corroborate her story, despite “several dozen” interviews.

More than 900 alumnae of Yale University have signed a letter supporting Ms Ramirez.

What is the White House saying?

Speaking at the United Nations in New York on Monday, Mr Trump said Judge Kavanaugh’s accusers had come “out of the woodwork” to make “highly unsubstantiated” and “totally political” allegations.

“There’s a chance this could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything,” he said.

Meanwhile, senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said: “It’s starting to feel like a vast left-wing conspiracy.”

Her phrase echoed Hillary Clinton’s 1998 depiction of infidelity allegations against her husband, President Bill Clinton, as a “vast right-wing conspiracy”.

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Media captionBrett Kavanaugh’s friends and colleagues defend his character

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Protesters stood outside the Supreme Court in the rain on Monday


Deep in the partisan trenches

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC Washington

Republican strategists have been saying for weeks that they believe Brett Kavanaugh could still be confirmed to the Supreme Court – if no new accusers emerge.

Now another woman has come forward.

Deborah Ramirez’s recollection of the events from their first year at Yale is admittedly foggy. And as with Christine Blasey Ford, there are no supporting witnesses. Nevertheless, it becomes increasingly difficult for Judge Kavanaugh’s side to dismiss what could now be characterised as a pattern of conduct, rather than an isolated accusation.

Thursday’s hearing, if it takes place, will probably be as much about Judge Kavanaugh’s history with alcohol and the 1980s teen party culture as it will about any specific incident. That is much trickier ground for the nominee.

The latest developments are already forcing both sides deeper into their partisan trenches. The White House is sticking by its man and focusing fire on what they view as a Democratic conspiracy. Those on the left see Republicans in a headlong rush to confirmation no matter the consequences or new information coming to light.

Meanwhile, in the middle, are the same handful of moderate Republican senators. And in just over a month, mid-term voters also will have their say.


What is the other allegation?

Christine Blasey Ford alleges Brett Kavanaugh drunkenly tried to remove her clothing, pinned her to a bed and covered her mouth at a high school party when she was 15 and he was 17.

The California psychology lecturer wrote in her own letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee this month that she was scared.

“While I am frightened,” she said, “please know, my fear will not hold me back from testifying and you will be provided with answers to all of your questions.

“I ask for fair and respectful treatment.”

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Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford have spent days negotiating terms for her testimony

Michael Avenatti, a US lawyer known for representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her cases against President Trump, has alleged on Twitter he is representing a third woman with “credible information” about Judge Kavanaugh and the alleged witness to Prof Ford’s assault, Mark Judge.

He pledged to go public with the new claim later this week.

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Protesters again flooded on Capitol Hill on Monday

What are lawmakers saying?

South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, complained on Twitter of “the total collapse of the traditional confirmation process for a Supreme Court nominee”.

“When it comes to stopping Pres @realDonaldTrump and his agenda there seem to be no boundaries,” he wrote.

“Republican Senator Tom Cotton tweeted on Monday that “Democrats are engaged in a campaign of delay and character assassination against Judge Kavanaugh”.

“It’s time to vote this week.”

Democrats have continued to call for the vote to be delayed to allow for the claims to be fully investigated.

Senator Kamala Harris, a California Democrat, tweeted a photo of herself dressed in all black on Monday “in support of all survivors of sexual assault or abuse”.

“We won’t let them be silenced or ignored,” she wrote, adding the hashtag “#BelieveSurvivors”.

Republican Senator Mitch McConnell attacked Democrats, saying: “This shameful, shameful smear campaign has hit a new low.”

He vowed to schedule a vote by the full senate “in the near future”.



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