Kavanaugh denies sexual misconduct allegation

Kavanaugh denies sexual misconduct allegation
© Anna Moneymaker

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Friday denied an allegation of sexual misconduct, a day after Senate Democrats said they had referred the incident to the FBI.

"I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation,” Kavanaugh said in a statement provided by the White House, his first comments on the allegations. “I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

ADVERTISEMENT
A letter, which reportedly details an incident between Kavanaugh and an unknown woman when they were in high school, has consumed talk of his Supreme Court nomination since reports of its existence surfaced on Wednesday.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGillibrand calls for Kavanaugh nomination to be withdrawn Feinstein calls for hold on Kavanaugh consideration Grassley releases letter detailing Kavanaugh sexual assault allegation MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee,  repeatedly declined to discuss the contents of the letter with reporters this week. Instead, she released a statement on Thursday saying she had referred the matter to the FBI.

The New Yorker on Friday reported new details of the letter, which has not been released publicly.

The woman in the letter said that at a party in the early 1980s Kavanaugh "held her down and that he attempted to force himself on her," according to The New Yorker.

The publication reported that the letter says Kavanaugh and a friend turned up music in a room to try to conceal her protests and that Kavanaugh also covered her mouth. The woman, according to The New Yorker, was able to free herself but later sought psychological treatment.

A Feinstein spokesman said Friday that the Democratic senator wanted to make the information on Kavanaugh public but the woman involved did not want it to be publicly disclosed. Feinstein received the information "through a third party," the spokesman said.

"The Senator took these allegations seriously and believed they should be public. However, the woman in question made it clear she did not want this information to be public," the spokesman said.

"It is critical in matters of sexual misconduct to protect the identity of the victim when they wish to remain anonymous, and the senator did so in this case," he added.

Mark Judge, the classmate reportedly named in the letter, told The Weekly Standard that the allegation against Kavanaugh is "just absolutely nuts."

"I can recall a lot of rough-housing with guys. It was an all-boys school, we would rough-house with each other," Judge told the publication. "I don't remember any of that stuff going on with girls."

The New York Times reported more details of the alleged incident on Friday, citing three people familiar with the letter, including one source who reportedly had read it.

During the alleged incident, Kavanaugh and a friend took the woman — then a teenager — into a bedroom, where the door was locked and she was thrown onto the bed. Kavanaugh then got on top of her and put a hand over her mouth, according to the Times.

The New Yorker and the Times both said that all three individuals involved in the alleged incident were minors at the time.

Republicans and the White House have dismissed the letter as an 11th-hour attempt by Democrats to try to derail Kavanaugh's nomination.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley's (R-Iowa) office sent out a letter on Friday morning from 65 women who knew Kavanaugh when he was in high school. The letter was made public shortly after The New Yorker article was published.

"We are women who have known Brett Kavanaugh for more than 35 years and knew him while he attended high school between 1979 and 1983,” the letter states. “For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect.”

"We strongly believe it is important to convey this information to the Committee at this time," they added.

Grassley's office later said that Thursday's committee vote on Kavanaugh's nomination would continue as previously scheduled.

They added that Kavanaugh has undergone six FBI investigations since 1993 and "no such allegation resembling the anonymous claims" was included in the FBI reports, and that, separately, no similar allegations have been brought to Republican members of the Judiciary Committee or staff.

The allegation was also not brought up during a closed-door session last week with Kavanaugh and members of the committee, according to Grassley's staff. They added that Grassley and his staff learned about the letter's "mere existence" on Wednesday evening from news reports and had "no prior knowledge" about the allegation it contains.

GOP Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchDems see Kavanaugh saga as playing to their advantage Kavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week Judiciary Dems say GOP treating Kavanaugh accuser worse than Anita Hill MORE (Utah) argued on Friday that the letter — which Democrats sent to the FBI and was subsequently shared with the White House and the Senate Judiciary Committee — had been "misrepresented" in the media.

"Every accuser deserves to be heard. But a process of verification is also necessary," Hatch said in a statement, adding that the woman's name had been redacted when the letter was sent to the FBI. "In this case, the accusations were made in a private letter, which has been misrepresented in a number of media stories."

A spokesman for Hatch didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about how the letter had been misrepresented.

The FBI confirmed on Thursday that it received the letter from Democrats.

“Upon receipt of the information on the night of September 12, we included it as part of Judge Kavanaugh’s background file, as per the standard process,” an FBI spokesperson told The Hill.

The information was then given to the White House and the Senate Judiciary Committee as an update to Kavanaugh's background file.

A government official confirmed that a criminal investigation has not been opened into the matter.

Updated at 6:12 p.m.