US Supreme Court nominee's accuser to testify at hearing

President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing on Sept 4. He now faces two separate allegations of sexual misconduct, both allegedly taking place in the 1980s.
President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing on Sept 4. He now faces two separate allegations of sexual misconduct, both allegedly taking place in the 1980s.PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

Agreement comes hours before new sexual misconduct claim surfaces against Trump pick

WASHINGTON • The university professor who has accused Mr Brett Kavanaugh, US President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, of sexual assault will testify before a Senate panel on Thursday about her allegation, her lawyers and the committee said.

The agreement for Dr Christine Blasey Ford to testify came just hours before the New Yorker magazine published an article on Sunday in which a second woman, identified as Ms Deborah Ramirez, described another instance of alleged sexual misconduct by Mr Kavanaugh, also in the 1980s, when both attended Yale University.

Dr Ford's agreement to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee came a week after she went public in an interview in the Washington Post with her allegation that Mr Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982 when both were high school students in Maryland.

Her allegation against the conservative federal appeals court judge has endangered his confirmation by the Republican-led Senate to a lifetime job on the top US court.

Mr Kavanaugh has also agreed to testify at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

The potentially explosive hearing - set against a backdrop of the #MeToo movement fighting sexual harassment and assault - comes just weeks before Nov 6 congressional elections in which Democrats are trying to take control of Congress from Mr Trump's fellow Republicans.

The New Yorker magazine reported that Senate Democrats are investigating the new allegation against Mr Kavanaugh that dates to the 1983-84 academic year, when Mr Kavanaugh was a Yale freshman.

FALSE ALLEGATIONS

This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name - and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building - against these last-minute allegations.

MR BRETT KAVANAUGH, US President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

Ms Ramirez is cited by the New Yorker as saying Mr Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drunken dormitory party.

Mr Kavanaugh has called Dr Ford's allegation "completely false" and said in a statement provided by the White House on Sunday that the incident described by Ms Ramirez "did not happen".

"This is a smear, plain and simple," Mr Kavanaugh said.

"I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name - and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building - against these last-minute allegations," Mr Kavanaugh said.

White House spokesman Kerri Kupec called the new allegation part of a "coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man".

"The White House stands firmly behind Judge Kavanaugh," she said.

After the New Yorker article was published, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the judiciary committee's top Democrat, wrote to the panel's Republican chairman, Senator Chuck Grassley, asking for an "immediate postponement of any further proceedings" on Mr Kavanaugh's confirmation.

"I also ask that the newest allegations of sexual misconduct be referred to the FBI for investigation," Ms Feinstein wrote.

In a radio interview aired yesterday, Mr Trump praised Mr Kavanaugh's character and intellect, calling him "a fantastic, fantastic man," and again cast doubt on the credibility of Dr Ford.

REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2018, with the headline 'US Supreme Court nominee's accuser to testify at hearing'. Print Edition | Subscribe