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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Brett Kavanaugh accuser Deborah Ramirez contacted by FBI- lawyer

Ms Ramirez alleges the Supreme Court nominee exposed himself to her at a university dormitory party

Brett Kavanaugh accuser Deborah Ramirez has been contacted by the FBI. EPA
Brett Kavanaugh accuser Deborah Ramirez has been contacted by the FBI. EPA

The attorney for the second woman to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct said on Saturday that FBI agents assigned to investigate the allegations have contacted her.

The announcement by Deborah Ramirez's lawyer John Clune indicates that the FBI probe of Mr Kavanaugh, ordered by United States President Donald Trump on Friday, will look beyond separate allegations of attempted rape levelled against the conservative federal appeals court judge by Dr Christine Blasey Ford at a dramatic Senate hearing.

"We can confirm the FBI has reached out to interview Ms Ramirez and she has agreed to co-operate with their investigation," Mr Clune said in a tweet. "Out of respect for the integrity of the process, we will have no further comment at this time."

Ms Ramirez alleges that Mr Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drunken party at a Yale University dormitory, when they were undergraduates.

Mr Kavanaugh denies both Dr Ford's and Ms Ramirez's allegations.

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Michael Avenatti, the attorney for a third Kavanaugh accuser, Julie Swetnick, said in an email to Reuters that his client has not been contacted by investigators.

Dr Ford, a California university professor, detailed for the Senate Judiciary Committee her claims that Mr Kavanaugh tried to rape her at a party in 1982 when the two were high school teenagers.

If confirmed to a lifetime Supreme Court appointment, Mr Kavanaugh would consolidate conservative control of the nation's highest court and advance Mr Trump's broad effort to shift the American judiciary to the right.

The allegations against Mr Kavanaugh, with the backdrop of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault that has toppled a succession of powerful men, have riveted the country, even as they raised doubts about his confirmation chances.

Mr Trump was forced to order the FBI investigation after Republican Senator Jeff Flake threatened to vote against Mr Kavanaugh's confirmation unless Republicans who control the Senate agreed to the new probe.

Mr Flake was supported by two other Republican moderates, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, both of whom have not announced whether they would support Mr Kavanaugh.

Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate, making the votes of Ms Murkowski and Ms Collins crucial. Mr Trump can afford to lose the vote of only one senator in his own party if all the Democrats vote against Mr Kavanaugh and Vice President Mike Pence casts a tie-breaking vote.