As Senate hearing set for Kavanaugh, new accuser emerges

Joshua Roberts  Reuters

Joshua Roberts Reuters

The White House and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh denied an allegation Sunday made by a second woman accusing him of inappropriate sexual behavior.

On Saturday night, Leland Ingham Keyser, a classmate of Ford's at the all-girls school Holton-Arms and her final named witness, denied any recollection of attending a party with Brett Kavanaugh.

A White House spokeswoman says the administration stands by the nominee, labelling the allegation "the latest in coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats created to tear a good man down".

Ford alleges that Kavanaugh attacked her at a high school party in the 1980s when they were teenagers.

Christine Blasey (now Ford) says Kavanaugh pulled her into a bedroom, held her down, put a hand over her mouth and tried to rip her swimsuit off. This story centers on Deborah Ramirez, who has come forward (or was pushed to come forward) with a claim that while she and Kavanaugh were both students at Yale, they were both at a drunken dorm party where Kavanaugh allegedly exposed himself to her. A White House spokesperson also expressed support for Kavanaugh.

Christine Blasey Ford's legal team announced Sunday that she is "committed to moving forward with an open hearing on Thursady" before the Senate Judiciary Committee, despite several obstacles.

In a statement, the Supreme Court nominee strongly refuted the allegation.

"In a statement, two of those male classmates who Ramirez alleged were involved in the incident, the wife of a third male student she said was involved, and three other classmates, Dino Ewing, Louisa Garry, and Dan Murphy, disputed Ramirez's account of events..." "If Republicans were to fail to defend and confirm such an obviously and eminently qualified and decent nominee", Ralph Reed, the founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, told the New York Times, "then it will be very hard to motivate and energize faith-based and conservative voters in November".

The offices of at least four Democratic senators have received information about Ramirez's allegation, The New Yorker reported.

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Through her lawyer, the woman told the committee on Saturday that she does not know Kavanaugh and she didn't remember being at a party with him, emails show.

The calendars reportedly do not list a party mentioned by Ford in her accusation. Blasey, who was around 15 at the time of the incident, has said publicly that she did not report it to the authorities, and that she does not recall exactly when it took place. Republicans are well aware that, in the era of #MeToo, they can ill afford to look as if they are bullying a victim of sexual assault.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of IL, also a Judiciary Committee member, questioned why Ford would have come forward if the allegation wasn't true. "I hope she comes".

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee's top Democrat, wrote a letter to Grassley on Sunday asking to stop the confirmation process.

At stake is not only the fate of Trump's hand-picked Supreme Court nominee, but also Republican chances in November's midterm elections that face increased risk if the polarizing confirmation battle drags on. "Go ahead and ruin this guy's life based on an accusation?"

Ford and the Senate Judiciary Committee have reached agreement for a public hearing Thursday, but critical details are still unresolved.

Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 6.

He passed on multiple questions, labelling them "too personal", but a senior White House official claimed he had struck the right note, suggesting his appearance will be carefully orchestrated to present a likable, clean version of himself.

Among the issues still being ironed out are how long senators will have to ask questions, the person said.

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