WASHINGTON: Opposition Democrats demanded Wednesday that President Donald Trump withdraw the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court or order an FBI investigation after another woman came forward with explosive allegations of sexually abusive behaviour when the judge was a teenager.
Trump dismissed what he described as “false accusations” and insisted the 53-year-old conservative jurist would eventually be confirmed to the nation’s highest court.
“He is a high quality person,” the president said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. “It’s a disgrace what’s going on.”
Trump was speaking after a new accuser, Julie Swetnick, said she saw Kavanaugh engage in sexually abusive behaviour as a teenager and claimed she had been gang-raped at a party he attended in the early 1980s.
Kavanaugh strongly denied the allegations by Swetnick, 55, who has worked extensively for the federal government including for the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service.
“This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone,” Kavanaugh said in a statement. “I don’t know who this is and this never happened.”
Lawyer Michael Avenatti sent the allegations made by Swetnick, his client, to the Senate Judiciary Committee conducting Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing and also demanded an FBI investigation into her claims.
The Senate committee is scheduled to hear testimony Thursday from another woman accusing Kavanaugh of assault, then to vote Friday on his nomination, but the latest revelations threaten to derail the already turbulent process.
The 10 Democrats on the panel asked Trump to withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination or direct the FBI to investigate the allegations.
“(Kavanaugh) is asking for a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court where he will have the opportunity to rule on matters that will impact Americans for decades,” they said in a letter.
A spokesman for the committee said lawyers were reviewing the declaration submitted by Swetnick, who said she attended more than 10 parties along with Kavanaugh while growing up in suburban Maryland.
‘Physically aggressive behaviour’
Swetnick said she saw Kavanaugh behave as a “mean drunk” at the parties.
“I observed Brett Kavanaugh drink excessively at many of these parties and engage in abusive and physically aggressive behaviour towards girls, including pressing girls against him without their consent, ‘grinding’ against girls, and attempting to remove or shift girls’ clothing to expose private body parts,” Swetnick said.
Swetnick said Kavanaugh’s claim of “innocence” and lack of sexual activity in high school was “absolutely false and a lie.”
Swetnick also said she was drugged and gang-raped at a party in approximately 1982 at which Kavanaugh was present.
She did not claim Kavanaugh took part or was aware of her rape, but said that he and other boys in his circle engaged in similar behaviour.
Swetnick described witnessing efforts by Kavanaugh to “’target’ particular girls so they could be taken advantage of.”
She said she saw efforts by “Kavanaugh and others to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys.
“I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room,” she said.
“These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh,” she said. Judge is a boyhood friend of Kavanaugh who has written a book describing the debauchery of his high school years.
Two women had previously come forward to accuse the judge of assaulting them in the 1980s.
University professor Christine Blasey Ford, who is set to testify before the Senate committee Thursday, claims Kavanaugh attacked her at a party when they were both teenagers, in presence of his friend Judge.
Kavanaugh also stands accused of exposing himself to a classmate, Deborah Ramirez, during an alcohol-fuelled Yale University party a few years later.
Kavanaugh, in prepared testimony released on Wednesday, repeated his denial of Blasey Ford’s allegation and said “this effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out.”
“I categorically and unequivocally deny the allegation against me by Dr. Ford,” he said
“Over the past few days, other false and uncorroborated accusations have been aired,” he said. “These are last minute smears, pure and simple.”
“I spent most of my time in high school focused on academics, sports, church, and service,” Kavanaugh said. “I drank beer with my friends, usually on weekends. Sometimes I had too many. In retrospect, I said and did things in high school that make me cringe now.”
He acknowledged he was “not perfect” in high school but said he “never did anything remotely resembling what Dr. Ford describes.”
As Kavanaugh defended himself, Trump launched a personal attack against Swetnick’s lawyer, Avenatti, who also represents Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claimed to have had a tryst with the president over a decade ago.
The president described Avenatti on Twitter as a “total low-life” and a “third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations, like he did on me.”
“Hopefully over the next couple of days it will be settled up and solved and we will have a Supreme Court justice who will go down as one of our greatest ever,” Trump said.