Republican senators rush to Kavanaugh’s defense after sexual misconduct allegation

Republican senators rush to Kavanaugh’s defense after sexual misconduct allegation

Senate Republicans rushed to the defense of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh on Sunday after a woman publicly accused him of sexual misconduct decades ago when they were both in high school.

The spokesman for the Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans, Taylor Foy, issued a lengthy statement vouching for Kavanaugh’s integrity and saying it was “disturbing that these uncorroborated allegations from more than 35 years ago, during high school, would surface on the eve of a committee vote after Democrats sat on them since July.”

The statement signaled that Republicans planned to move ahead and try to confirm Kavanaugh by the end of the month, even as Senate Democrats swiftly called for them to delay a vote to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“For too long, when women have made serious allegations of abuse, they have been ignored. That cannot happen in this case,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a statement.

The Washington Post published a story Sunday afternoon that included an on-the-record interview with the woman alleging the sexual misconduct, Christine Blasey Ford. The report marked the first time her identity had been revealed publicly and her first public comments about the allegation.

Kavanaugh “categorically and unequivocally” denied the accusation in a statement.

As Democratic senators quickly responded to the report Sunday afternoon, many Republicans were quiet. Foy did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the Judiciary Committee still planned to hold a vote to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor on Thursday. Representatives for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The developments marked the latest chapter of a long-contentious battle over President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee that has grown increasingly divisive as it approaches its final stages.

Hours before The Post report was published Sunday, a centrist Democratic senator and two of his Republican colleagues argued that the allegation against Kavanaugh — which at that point was not publicly connected to Ford — should have been raised sooner in the Senate and predicted it would not prevent the chamber from moving forward with Kavanaugh’s nomination.

In televised interviews, Sens. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) expressed concerns that a letter outlining the allegation that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) received was not shared with fellow lawmakers earlier in Kavanaugh’s nomination process.

Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that now that Ford has shared her story “it is in the hands of the FBI to conduct an investigation. This should happen before the Senate moves forward on this nominee.”

The contents of the Ford’s confidential July letter received widespread public attention in news reports the past few days. The letter detailed an accusation stating said she was at a party with Kavanaugh when they were both in high school, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Felicia Sonmez and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.

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