WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Donald Trump dismissed the latest accuser of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as "drunk" and "messed up" on Tuesday (Sept 25), slamming the sexual abuse allegations against his pick for the top US court as a "con game" by Democrats.
Plunging into the high-stakes battle over the future of the court, Trump rejected a claim by Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh was the person who dropped his pants and thrust his penis in her face at an alcohol-fuelled Yale University dorm party about 35 years ago.
"The second accuser has nothing. She thinks maybe it could have been him, maybe not," Trump told reporters in New York. "She admits that she was drunk. She admits that there are time lapses."
"Thirty-six years ago, nobody ever knew about it or heard about it, and now a new charge comes up and she said it might not be him, and there were gaps and said she was totally inebriated, all messed up," Trump said.
"The Democrats are playing a con game. They know it's a con game," he said.
"It's a shame that you can do this to a person's life."
Trump made the statement two days after The New Yorker published Ramirez's story, the second woman in two weeks to come forth with allegations against Kavanaugh while they were students.
A week earlier California professor Christine Blasey Ford said Kavanaugh tried to tear her clothes off in an assault during a party around 1982 when both were students at elite private high schools in Washington.
The 53-year-old Kavanaugh, currently a federal appeals court judge in Washington DC, flatly denies the accusations.
With Republicans pressing hard to get his nomination approved as soon as this weekend, Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford are to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday in what could prove a fiery hearing.
Democrats are demanding the hearing be put off so that the FBI can investigate the two women's claims.
Michael Avenatti, a lawyer who represents a porn star claiming to have had an affair with Trump, has said he is also representing a possible third Kavanaugh accuser, whom he has not identified.
Kavanaugh's approval to be the ninth justice on the Supreme Court was considered near-certain just two weeks ago, based on Republicans' narrow control of the Senate.
The conservative, Republican-aligned judge would add to the court's rightward tilt, potentially putting at risk longstanding legal protections for abortion rights and "affirmative action" policies to help boost minorities.
But first Blasey Ford and now Ramirez have thrown his nomination into doubt, even though their allegations lack the support of solid, corroborating witnesses.
With his wife at his side, Kavanaugh went on television Tuesday to defend himself, an unprecedented move by a Supreme Court nominee.
"I've never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not ever. I've always treated women with dignity and respect," he said.
"I'm not going to let false accusations drive us out of this process."
His reputation took another blow, however, when his former Yale roommate James Roche said he believed Ramirez.
Kavanaugh was a "notably heavy drinker" in school who "became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk," Roche said.
While he did not witness the incident alleged by Ramirez, Roche said Kavanaugh and his social circle "were capable" of such actions.
"I believe her to be unusually honest and straightforward and I cannot imagine her making this up."
With the election looming and their control of Congress at stake, Republicans have been mindful of the pitfalls of alienating women voters by their handling of the accusations against Kavanaugh.
But Republican committee members and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell also have made clear that they will question the women's memories and lack of witnesses or evidence.
"The American people know that sexual misconduct is gravely serious," McConnell said Tuesday.
"But the American people also insist that vague, unsubstantiated and uncorroborated allegations of 30-plus-year-old misconduct, where all of the supposed witnesses either totally deny it or can't confirm it, is nowhere near grounds to nullify someone's career or destroy their good name."
Earlier on Tuesday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders echoed Trump's claim that the Democrats are playing games with Kavanaugh.
"The process that the Democrats have played is absolutely disgusting. I think it's disgusting that they have exploited these individuals," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told Fox News on Tuesday.