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US Politics

Brett Kavanaugh denies claim of sexual misconduct and keeps White House support

The New Yorker cited a letter written by a woman who said the encounter occurred at a party when Kavanaugh was a high school student during the early 1980s

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 September, 2018, 1:24am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 September, 2018, 1:24am

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “unequivocally” denied an allegation reported in The New Yorker magazine that during a party in high school he held a girl down and tried to force himself on her.

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

The White House is not considering pulling Kavanaugh’s nomination over the allegation, White House spokesman Raj Shah said.

The initial disclosure on Thursday by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein that she had provided unspecified “information” to the FBI threw the already contentious confirmation fight into confusion.

The New Yorker cited a letter written by the woman that said the encounter occurred at a party when Kavanaugh was a high school student during the early 1980s.

The woman contended that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his had been drinking, and turned up music that was playing in the room to drown out her protests. The woman said Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand, but that she was able to free herself, The New Yorker said.

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The New Yorker quoted Kavanaugh’s classmate as saying he had no recollection of such an incident. Kavanaugh attended all-male Georgetown Preparatory School, and the magazine said the woman attended a nearby high school.

The magazine said the woman, whom it did not identify, declined a request for an interview.

The letter was sent to California Democratic Representative Anna Eshoo and to Feinstein, also of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee that is considering Kavanaugh’s high court nomination.

Feinstein turned the letter over this week to the FBI, which said it is not investigating though it included the letter in his background file.

The New Yorker said Feinstein received the letter weeks before last week’s Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing, and declined requests to share it with other Democratic committee members because she thought the incident was too far in the past to be discussed publicly and the woman did not want to be identified.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley released a letter on Friday from 65 women who said they knew Kavanaugh when he attended high school.

“For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honourably and treated women with respect,” the letter said. “He has always been a good person.”

Kavanaugh has appeared to be on track for confirmation by the Republican-controlled Senate, and the White House and Senate Republicans accused Democrats of making a last-ditch effort to block the appointment.

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Republicans control the Senate 51-49, and no Republican Party members have opposed confirmation, although two abortion-rights supporters, Maine’s Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have not yet said how they will vote.

White House spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said on Thursday that Kavanaugh has been vetted repeatedly by the FBI during his 25 years of public service and contended that Feinstein’s move was intended to undermine the confirmation.

The Judiciary Committee plans to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination on September 20, with the aim of a full Senate vote before the high court starts its new term on October 1.