Senate

White House pushes back on second Kavanaugh accuser

Greg Nash

The White House is pushing back against allegations from a second woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, a shift from their handling of earlier accusations against Kavanaugh in which they focused more on defending their nominee.

Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, pointed to what he characterized as significant problems in the woman’s story, while the Republican National Committee (RNC), which works closely with President Trump, issued a memo highlighting “major holes” in her story.

Trump himself spoke out in defense of Kavanaugh ahead of meetings at the United Nations. 

{mosads}“Judge Kavanaugh is an outstanding person and I am with him all the way,” Trump said. “I think it could be … that this could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything.”

“For people to come out of the woodwork from 36 years ago and 30 years ago and never mention it — all of the sudden it happens. In my opinion it’s totally political,” he said. 

Shah emailed to reporters early Monday morning what he called “damning” reporting in The New York Times undercutting the story of Deborah Ramirez, a former classmate of Kavanaugh who claims Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a dorm-room party at Yale University.

Shah circulated reporting in the Times stating it had interviewed several dozen people over the past week in an attempt to corroborate Ramirez’s story, but couldn’t find anyone with firsthand knowledge.

The Times also reported that Ramirez had a hazy recollection of her claim that Kavanaugh years ago had thrust his exposed penis in her face and caused her to touch it when she pushed him away.

“Ms. Ramirez herself contacted former Yale classmates asking if they recalled the incident and told some of them that she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself,” the newspaper reported.

Michael Reed, the RNC’s research director and deputy communications director, on Sunday evening sent a memo to the media highlighting what he called “major holes” in Ramirez’s story, which was first reported by The New Yorker magazine.

The RNC spokesman noted that The New Yorker did not confirm with other eyewitnesses that Kavanaugh was at the party where the alleged incident took place, that someone who was described by Ramirez as an eyewitness denied having any memory of Kavanaugh exposing himself and that three classmates who knew Ramirez and Kavanaugh said they had never heard the story before.

The RNC spokesman also pointed to The New Yorker’s account of a former friend of Ramirez who was married to a male classmate allegedly involved in the incident who told The New Yorker of her relationship with Ramirez: “We shared intimate details of our lives. And I was never told this story by her, or by anyone else. It never came up.”

The New Yorker story was written by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow, who won a Pulitzer for his coverage of the sexual harassment and assault revelations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

The allegations in the story emerged as the Senate Judiciary Committee reached an agreement to hold a hearing where Christine Blasey Ford, another woman making allegations against Kavanaugh, will be heard. 

Trump for the first time questioned Ford’s credibility late last week, questioning why she did not come forward with her accusations earlier. She says Kavanaugh assaulted her at a high school party in the early 1980s. Kavanaugh has said the allegations are not true.

A liberal advocacy group opposed to Kavanaugh came to Ramirez’s defense.

Credo Action, a San Francisco–based grass-roots advocacy group, released a statement Sunday calling for Kavanaugh to be impeached from his position as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

“Again today, a brave survivor has come forward with a story that impugns both Brett Kavanaugh’s honesty and his character,” said Credo Action co-Director Heidi Hess in a statement.

“If you stand with survivors, the path forward is clear: Brett Kavanaugh should be impeached — not promoted. Unfortunately, Republican Senators are continuing to do everything they can to undermine the women who have come forward and to defend Kavanaugh,” she said.

Democrats have called for Kavanaugh’s confirmation proceedings to be halted until the latest allegation, as well as claims by Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her at a high school party, are fully investigated.

“If Brett Kavanaugh refuses to withdraw, then at the very least we cannot move forward until there is a complete and thorough investigation of what appears to be a disturbing pattern of behavior by this nominee,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has also called for an FBI investigation.

She pressed Republicans Sunday evening to cancel Thursday’s hearing where Ford and Kavanaugh are both scheduled to testify.

Tags Bob Menendez Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump

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