US President Donald Trump has double down on his support for his embattled Supreme Court nominee after Brett Kavanaugh was hit by a second accusation of sexual misconduct on Sunday, leaving Republicans scrambling to save a confirmation that until recently had seemed all but certain.
The New Yorker magazine published the account of Deborah Ramirez in which she alleged Kavanaugh exposed himself to her without consent during a drunken party at Yale University in the 1980s.
“I can still see his face, and his hips coming forward, like when you pull up your pants,” she was quoted as saying by the New Yorker.
Kavanaugh denied the story, calling it “a smear, plain and simple”.
“The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so,” the conservative judge said in a statement.
The magazine added that Senate Democrats are investigating the allegations.
Ramirez’s account was published just hours after Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both teenagers, agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Kavanaugh also agreed to testify, denying Ford’s allegations.
Like Ford, Ramirez wants the FBI to investigate the incident and Democratic legislators are backing their demands. Democrats also called for Thursday’s hearing to be delayed after the new allegations surfaced.
On Monday, Trump reiterated his support for his Supreme Court nominee, calling the allegations by both Ford and Ramirez “totally political” and saying he supports Kavanaugh “all the way”.
Ford agreed to testify after an increasingly ugly week-long standoff that saw her forced to leave her California home as she faced death threats and the president openly attacked her credibility.
The two parties will testify separately – first Ford, followed by Kavanaugh’s response – the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed.
According to The New York Times, Kavanaugh has calendars from the summer of 1982 that he plans to share with senators showing he was out of town most of that time with no indication of the party of concern.
The controversy over Kavanaugh is unfolding just weeks before November 6 congressional elections in which Democrats are trying to take control of Congress from Trump’s fellow Republicans, against a backdrop of the #MeToo movement fighting sexual harassment and assault.
Al Jazeera’s John Hendren, reporting from Washington, DC, said the latest accusation has put the whole process in turmoil.
“If every Democrat voted against Kavanaugh they will only need two Republicans to vote with them and this might be enough to make up that margin. So, the committee has a lot to think about in the coming days.”
On Monday morning, hundreds of students and others reportedly held a sit-in at Yale University to protest Kavanaugh’s nomination.
200+ student Sit-In in Yale Law School protesting the nomination of #BrettKavanaugh
0.2 miles from where Deborah Ramirez was assaulted 35 years ago. pic.twitter.com/fWiw8ujhFG
— Matt Post (@mattlpost) September 24, 2018
A national walkout, organised by a number of different rights groups, is scheduled for later in the afternoon to show support for Ford and Ramirez.
“We believe Dr Blasey Ford. We believe Deborah Ramirez,” the event’s organisers said in a Facebook page. “We believe survivors,” it added. “And we won’t stand for Senate Republicans’ despicable attempts to strong-arm a sexual assault survivor.”