Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is now facing sexual misconduct allegations, just days before his confirmation goes to a vote.
Kavanaugh, 53, was already taking on a fierce backlash from Democrats and progressives, and then Thursday night Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced she had referred information about the nominee to the FBI. That information, according to numerous reports, came in the form of a letter from a woman who claims that Kavanaugh attempted to force himself on her at a party in the early 1980s. She claimed that both Kavanaugh and his classmate tried to drown out her protests by turning up music and covering her mouth. She was able to escape unharmed, but the woman claimed that the alleged incident has been an ongoing source of stress for her in the decades since, and that she has even sought psychological treatment.
"That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision,” Feinstein said.
Kavanaugh and his classmate both denied the allegations to The New Yorker.
“I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation,” Kavanaugh said in a statement early Friday. “I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
The revelations have reportedly stirred discord among Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, some of whom objected to Feinstein’s handling of the situation and the anonymity of the accuser. Feinstein reportedly expressed hesitation about bringing the complaint to a public forum because she thought Democrats should focus on legal, as opposed to personal, matters to take down Kavanaugh, according to The New Yorker.
Sources told CNN that there will be no criminal investigation of Kavanaugh and that the complaint was added to his background file. It’s up to the White House if any further action would be taken.
The White House expressed dismay at the letter, and a spokesperson insisted that Kavanaugh had been “repeatedly” vetted — he was staff secretary in the George W. Bush White House and he’s been a D.C. Circuit Court judge for the past 10 years. Republicans also decried the secret accusation, with Republican Sen. John Cornyn, for example, saying that the information “smacks of desperation.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, released a letter from 65 women who knew Kavanaugh in high school, indicating that Republicans were aware of the accusation. The women jointly agreed that Kavanaugh “behaved honorably and treated women with respect.”
Kavanaugh is Trump’s second conservative nominee to the high court, and if confirmed he’s expected to tilt the court to the right. The vote is scheduled for Sept. 20.
Cover: President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, looks over his notes during a third round of questioning on the third day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington, to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)