President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court is now facing a potentially difficult obstacle to the bench — a decades-old incident of sexual assault, detailed over the weekend by a woman in The Washington Post.
Washington, D.C., appellate judge Brett Kavanaugh is scheduled for a confirmation hearing in the full Senate on Thursday, after being approved by the judiciary committee last week. In the Post article, the woman said she and a friend were sexually assaulted by Kavanugh the 1980s, when the three were high school students in Maryland.
At attorney for the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, told CBS News Monday that Ford is willing to testify before Congress about her claims — and expects Senate Republicans to “play hardball.”
Most experts have anticipated Kavanaugh to be confirmed by the Senate, which would place Trump’s second appointee on the high court bench. Democrats, though, have now called for a delay due to the new accusations.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., asked Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chair of the judiciary committee, to postpone the vote until “at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated.
“To railroad a vote now would be an insult to the women of America and the integrity of the Supreme Court,” he said.
Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., first informed the committee of Ford’s claims after reviewing a copy of a letter sent to Ford’s representative in Congress.
Two Republicans on the committee have also expressed an interest in examining the case. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said the committee needs to examine the charges, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he was open to learning more.
“If Ms. Ford wishes to provide information to the committee, I would gladly listen to what she has to say and compare that against all other information we have received about Judge Kavanaugh,” Graham said in a statement. “If the committee is to hear from Ms. Ford it should be done immediately so the process can continue as scheduled.”
Monday, the White House issued a statement from Kavanaugh.
“This is a completely false allegation,” he said. “I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone.”
“Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday,” he continued.
“I am willing to talk to the Senate judiciary committee in any way the committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.”
Ford told the Post a drunken Kavanaugh and a friend, Matt Judge, forced her onto a bed during a party and attempted to undress her. She said Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth to keep her quiet. She said she escaped and didn’t tell anyone about the ordeal until a therapy session in 2002.
Ford said she went public to clarify what she said were inaccuracies about the story.
“These are all the ills that I was trying to avoid,” she said. “Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation.”
Kavanaugh needs a simple majority in the Senate, 51 votes, to be confirmed.