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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Brett Kavanaugh promises that 'false accusations' will not force him to drop out

Mr Kavanaugh's alleged misconduct is clouding his candidacy for US Supreme Court 

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Washington on September 5, 2018. Reuters
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Washington on September 5, 2018. Reuters

Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee last night denied allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, promising that “false accusations” would not force him to drop out.

“I'm not going anywhere," Brett Kavanaugh said during an interview with Fox News barely a day after a second woman came forward to accuse the judge of abuse during an alcohol-fuelled party.

“I have faith in God, and I have faith in the fairness of the American people,” he said. “The truth is I've never sexually assaulted anyone.”

Mr Kavanaugh has come under increasing pressure to step aside after Christine Blasey Ford accused him of assaulting at a house party in 1982 when they were high school students. On Sunday, a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, said he had exposing himself to her during a dormitory party when they were in their first year at Yale University.

Republicans have leapt to Mr Kavanaugh’s defence in what has become a partisan fight.

Mr Trump himself dismissed the allegations as politically motivated.

“Judge Kavanaugh is an outstanding person. I am with him all the way,” he said after arriving in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

For his part, Mr Kavanaugh said no corroborating witnesses had come forward and that he had not been at the sort of party described by Ms Ford.

“I'm not going to let false accusations drive us out of this process and we're looking for a fair process where I can be heard and defend my integrity, my lifelong record," he said, sitting next to his wife during an at time emotional interview.

“My lifelong record of promoting dignity and equality for women starting with the women who knew me when I was 14 years old.”

For the 53-year-old to take up the vacant seat he must first be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and then the entire senate.

The new accusation emerged hours after lawyers agreed to hold an extraordinary public hearing of the committee on Thursday. Both Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Mr Kavanaugh of groping her on a bed and trying to pull off her clothes, and the nominee will give evidence.

The latest allegations prompted Dianne Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the committee, to call for the immediate postponement of further proceedings.

Ms Ramirez, 53, said the incident occurred when she and Mr Kavanaugh took part in a drinking game, according to her account, where people sat in a circle and selected others to drink. At one point a plastic penis was pointed at her, before a male student exposed himself to her.

“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.”

She remarked on what she thought at first were fake genitals and tried to push them away, touching the person in the process, as onlookers mocked her, she said.

“I wasn’t going to touch a penis until I was married,” she told The New Yorker. “I was embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated.”

She admitted there were gaps in her memory caused by drinking which had made her hesitant to come forward, but said she remembered Mr Kavanaugh laughing and pulling up his trousers.

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Read more:

Kavanaugh, Ford agree to testify on Thursday

The Supreme Court controversy is testing the raison d'etre of Trump's presidency

Trump casts doubt on sexual assault claims against Kavanaugh

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The magazine said it contacted dozens of classmates. Some said they heard about the episode, although they were not direct witnesses, while others said the allegation was “out of character” for Mr Kavanaugh.

Six Senate Democrats including Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal and California’s Kamala Harris are seeking a court order compelling the National Archives and Records Administration to turn over documents regarding Mr Kavanaugh’s work under President George W. Bush.

The senators, who all serve on the Judiciary Committee, filed the complaint Monday in federal court in Washington. The Central Intelligence Agency is also named as a defendant in the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The Democrats called their lawsuit "a last resort," compelled by Republican refusal to seek "whole categories of documents" relevant to the confirmation process.

Mr Trump has so far shown no sign of wanting to distance himself from Mr Kavanaugh. He has frequently cited the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court last year as one of his crowning achievements. The elevation of a second justice would win him further plaudits from conservatives.

Kellyanne Conway, who serves as the president’s political counsellor, echoed the nominee’s statement that the allegations amounted to a “smear campaign”.

“This is starting to feel like a vast left-wing conspiracy,” she told the CBS show This Morning.

She said she supported women who came forward with allegations of abuse but added: “I just don’t think one man’s shoulders should bear decades of the #metoo movement.”

The conservative National Review urged Republicans to stand firm in the face of uncorroborated reports.

"If Democrats take down Kavanaugh on the basis of these charges, they will have achieved the miraculous by stopping a Supreme Court nominee with two unproven and probably unprovable charges, in a smashing victory for garbage-pail politics," it said in an editorial.

At the same time, Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who represents the adult actress Stormy Daniels in her claim that she had an affair with Mr Trump, said he was in touch with a third woman with “credible information” about high school-era parties attended by Mr Kavanaugh.

He said she was prepared to give evidence before the committee and that he would disclose her identity in the days to come.

Meanwhile, the judiciary committee is preparing for a day of high drama on Thursday.

Mr Kavanaugh is planning to turn over his calendars for 1982, which he says offer no details of a party consistent with Ms Ford’s allegations and show he was out of town for much of the summer, according to The New York Times.

Lawyers for Ms Ford said they had not yet reached agreement on whether their client would face questions from attorneys on the committee staff or senators themselves. But that would not stop the hearing taking place.

“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,” they said.