The Brett Kavanaugh scandal is deepening by the day. Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee has now been accused of sexual misconduct by at least two women—and the first complainant, Christine Blasey Ford, is ready to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
While in public, Trump and other senior Republicans are still bullish about their continued support for federal judge, many are privately concerned about a backlash against the party in the upcoming midterm elections, particularly from women, if they’re seen as belittling or silencing Kavanaugh’s accusers.
A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, is now also publicly accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct at a Yale University dorm party. Then comes Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Trump accuser Stormy Daniels, who says he is representing another woman with “credible evidence” against the nominee.
It was a wild Sunday night with this story and if you’re struggling to keep up, here are the key points from the Kavanaugh scandal that developed over the weekend.
What Deborah Ramirez Alleges
The allegation from the Colorado woman became public knowledge via a report in The New Yorker magazine published Sunday. Ramirez, now 53, alleges that she was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh during the 1983-84 academic school year when they were both was freshmen at Yale University. Ramirez says the future jurist exposed himself at a party while drunk, thrust his penis into her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. She’s now calling for the FBI to investigate Kavanaugh’s role in the incident.
Does the New Yorker Have Proof?
The magazine makes clear that Ramirez has gaps in her memory because she was drunk at the party—but she insists she remembers Kavanaugh pulling up his pants and someone shouting: “Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face!” The magazine admits it was not able to back the story up with eyewitnesses, but three former classmates said they remembered hearing about the incident. Other classmates, including two males allegedly involved, disputed her account.
How Kavanaugh Responded
As with the Ford allegation, Kavanaugh has flatly denied the claim from Ramirez. In a statement to The New Yorker, he dismissed Ramirez’ recollection as a fabrication. “This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen,” he said. “The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. 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.”
How the White House Responded
The White House—and Trump personally—continue to bullishly support Kavanaugh. Responding specifically to the new allegation, White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec dismissed it as “a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man.” Shortly before the second allegation was made public, Trump threw his weight behind his pick, telling WTAM radio he was a “fantastic, fantastic man.”
Why Is Michael Avenatti Involved Now?
The lawyer for Stormy Daniels and 2020 presidential hopeful inserted himself into the Kavanaugh story late Sunday after he tweeted that he’s representing a woman who has “credible evidence” against the nominee. Avenatti said he and his client will “be demanding the opportunity to present testimony to the committee” and added that he’s aware of “significant evidence” that Kavanaugh targeted women with alcohol in order to allow “a train” of men to take advantage of them sexually. So far, his client is unnamed.
The BFF: Mark Judge’s Role
One of Kavanaugh’s high-school classmates, Mark Judge, was said by Ford to have been present in the room when the alleged assault took place, alternately urging Kavanaugh to “go for it” and to “stop,” according to an unredacted form of her letter released by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley on Sunday night. Judge has denied that, saying he doesn’t recall any sexual misconduct from Kavanaugh. But two women, including one of Judge’s former lovers, have come forward to accuse him of lying about there being no sexual misconduct at the school. Senate Republicans have declined to ask Judge to testify before the Judiciary Committee.
What’s the Senate Judiciary Committee Saying?
Senate Judiciary Committee staff said late Sunday that they will look into a report detailing Ramirez’s claim, and the claims made by Avenatti and his client. Judiciary spokesman Taylor Foy says Republican committee staff found out about the claim from The New Yorker report—though the article states the panel found out about it last week—and accused Senate Democrats of being more interested in “a political takedown than pursuing allegations through a bipartisan and professional investigative process.” Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee, called for the “immediate postponement of any further proceedings.”