WASHINGTON ― Republicans made it clear they’re pressing forward with a vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court despite the fact that a second woman has accused him of sexual misconduct.
Deborah Ramirez came forward in an article published by The New Yorker on Sunday and alleged that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were students at Yale. The nominee denied the accusation in a Fox News interview Monday evening, maintaining that he’s “not going anywhere.”
“I know I’m telling the truth. I know my lifelong record, and I’m not going to let false accusations drive me out of this process,” Kavanaugh said in an interview alongside his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh.
Top Senate Republicans also dismissed the latest accusation, attacking Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee for withholding information about the alleged incident from their GOP counterparts despite hearing about Ramirez’s story last week.
“They just wanted it to wind up in the press. Another orchestrated, last-minute hit on the nominee,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday in a fiery speech on the Senate floor, vowing to hold a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination no matter what comes out during a scheduled hearing on Thursday with Christine Blasey Ford, the research psychologist who last week accused Kavanaugh of groping her at a high school party while they were both teens.
Ramirez, meanwhile, alleged that Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and thrust his penis in her face at a Yale party during the 1983-84 school year. She says both she and Kavanaugh were intoxicated at the time and that she wasn’t entirely sure of her memories. The New Yorker interviewed multiple people who Ramirez said were at the party, but none of them said they could recall such an incident.
Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans pointed to the lack of corroborating witnesses in Ramirez’s story as well as Democrats’ involvement with her coming forward behind the scenes as reasons to dismiss her allegation.
“You’re always going to have these phony allegations come.... that’s always the case when you have such an invested situation,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told reporters on Monday when asked if he wanted to see Ramirez testify before the Senate.
When a reporter pressed the Utah Republican to explain how he knew the allegation was “phony,” Hatch simply said, “Because I know it is, that’s why.”
Hatch also said he didn’t “see any reason” to call Kavanaugh’s high school friend Mark Judge to testify before the Senate, despite the fact that The New Yorker reported Sunday that Judge’s ex-girlfriend once recalled how he and other classmates took turns having sex with a drunken woman in school. Democrats said the latest allegation concerning Judge is even more reason why the FBI ought to reopen a background investigation into Kavanaugh’s nomination. Last week, Blasey claimed that Judge was in the room while the now-Supreme Court nominee allegedly groped her ― an incident Judge said in a letter he has “no memory” of.
Hatch said of the committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination: “It ought to be done before the end of this week.”
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), another Judiciary Committee member, told reporters he believed that Democrats are “just taking shots in the dark” with the latest allegation against Kavanaugh, adding that he is “prepared to move forward with the vote” on the nomination barring any new incriminating information that may arise at Thursday’s hearing with Blasey.
Republicans who are considered swing votes on Kavanaugh’s nomination similarly didn’t appear to find the latest sexual misconduct allegation against him as disqualifying.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told CNN she believes that Senate Judiciary Committee investigators should interview Ramirez. The centrist Republican did not, however, call on Ramirez to testify in public, as she had done with Blasey last week. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), another undecided senator on the nomination, told reporters she didn’t know whether Ramirez ought to testify.
Kavanaugh’s firm denials on Monday ― as well as his unusual decision to address the allegations in a television interview with his wife by his side ― also appeared to give Republicans some reassurance about firmly sticking by their nominee despite not yet having heard Blasey’s testimony and the possibility that more allegations involving Kavanaugh could surface in the future.
“I think part of it is Judge Kavanaugh’s resolve,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Monday when asked why top Republicans seemed to have so much faith in the nominee’s denials. “He said he’s not going to withdraw, that this is a smear. He’s staying in this and obviously willing to go out and make his own case even before the hearing.”
The Missouri senator, who is the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, added that GOP leadership believes a vote on Kavanaugh “is something that everybody should be prepared to have a position on in the foreseeable future.”