Ka­vanaugh de­nies sex­ual mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tion

The Detroit News - - Trump Administration - BY LISA MAS­CARO As­so­ci­ated Press

Wash­ing­ton – Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett Ka­vanaugh on Fri­day de­nied an al­le­ga­tion of sex­ual mis­con­duct from when he was in high school, seek­ing to defuse a po­ten­tial threat to his con­fir­ma­tion as a hand­ful of key sen­a­tors re­mained silent on whether they would vote for him.

In a state­ment re­leased by the White House, Ka­vanaugh said: “I cat­e­gor­i­cally and un­equiv­o­cally deny this al­le­ga­tion. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

Se­nate Repub­li­cans in­sist Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion re­mains on track. But the al­le­ga­tion has in­flamed an al­ready in­tense po­lit­i­cal battle over Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s nom­i­nee. It also pushes the #MeToo move­ment into the court fight, less than two months be­fore con­gres­sional elec­tions that have seen a surge of fe­male Demo­cratic can­di­dates.

The New Yorker mag­a­zine re­ported that the al­leged in­ci­dent took place at a party when Ka­vanaugh, now 53, was at­tend­ing Ge­orge­town Prepara­tory School. The woman mak­ing the al­le­ga­tion at­tended a nearby school.

The mag­a­zine says the woman sent a let­ter about the al­le­ga­tion to Democrats. A Demo­cratic aide and an­other per­son fa­mil­iar with the let­ter con­firmed Fri­day to The As­so­ci­ated Press that the al­le­ga­tion is sex­ual in na­ture. Two other peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter con­firmed it con­cerned an in­ci­dent al­leged to have oc­curred in high school. They were not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

The AP has not con­firmed the de­tails of the in­ci­dent al­leged in The New Yorker’s ac­count.

Ral­ly­ing to Ka­vanaugh’s de­fense, 65 women who knew him in high school is­sued a let­ter say­ing Ka­vanaugh has “al­ways treated women with de­cency and respect.” The let­ter was cir­cu­lated by Repub­li­cans on the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee.

“We are women

who

have known Brett Ka­vanaugh for more than 35 years and knew him while he at­tended high school be­tween 1979 and 1983,” wrote the women, who said most of them had at­tended all-girl high schools in the area. “For the en­tire time we have known Brett Ka­vanaugh, he has be­haved honor­ably and treated women with respect.”

The show of sup­port for Ka­vanaugh was or­ga­nized by his former law clerks. Three women reached by AP said they were first asked to sign the let­ter on Thurs­day.

The swift push­back comes af­ter the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee’s top Demo­crat, Dianne Fe­in­stein of Cal­i­for­nia, no­ti­fied fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors about in­for­ma­tion she re­ceived about the nom­i­nee.

Fe­in­stein won’t dis­close the in­for­ma­tion pub­licly, but the FBI con­firmed it has in­cluded it in Ka­vanaugh’s back­ground file at the com­mit­tee, now avail­able con­fi­den­tially to all sen­a­tors.

Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion has di­vided the Se­nate and the new in­for­ma­tion com­pli­cates the process, es­pe­cially as key Repub­li­can sen­a­tors, in­clud­ing Su­san Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, are un­der enor­mous pres­sure from out­side groups seek­ing to sway their votes on grounds that a Jus­tice Ka­vanaugh might vote to un­der­cut the Roe v. Wade rul­ing. One ac­tivist group fa­vor­ing abor­tion choice, NARAL, called on Ka­vanaugh to with­draw from consideration.

The Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, which has fin­ished con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings for Ka­vanagh, still plans to vote next Thurs­day on whether to rec­om­mend that he be con­firmed by the full Se­nate, a spokesman said.

Collins held an hour-long phone call with Ka­vanaugh on Fri­day, her spokes­woman con­firmed. It had been a pre­vi­ously sched­uled fol­low-up to an ini­tial visit that Ka­vanaugh made to her of­fice in Au­gust. It was not im­me­di­ately clear if they dis­cussed the new in­for­ma­tion.

If Collins or Murkowski should vote for Ka­vanaugh, he is likely to be con­firmed. Ev­ery other Repub­li­can in the Se­nate is ex­pected to vote yes.

Ka­vanaugh

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