With hours to go before U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces questions about alleged sexual assault, a media appearance by his attorney and a last-ditch lawsuit in Washington, D.C., are setting the stage for a contentious hearing Thursday.
All sides involved in the Kavanaugh confirmation fight spent Wednesday girding for Thursday’s showdown, where members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who has accused him of sexually assaulting her at a high school party in the 1980s.
In remarks prepared for Thursday, Kavanaugh repeated his denial that he never assaulted Ford. The written testimony attempted to fend off the more recent allegations of inappropriate behavior that also threaten to derail his nomination.
“Over the past few days, other false and uncorroborated accusations have been aired. There has been a frenzy to come up with something—anything, no matter how far-fetched or odious—that will block a vote on my nomination. These are last-minute smears, pure and simple,” Kavanaugh will tell senators Thursday, according to his prepared statement.
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Washington, D.C., resident Julie Swetnick went public Wednesday with her accusation against Kavanaugh. She claimed Kavanaugh witnessed a 1982 incident where Swetnick, then a teenager, was gang raped. The accusation was made via her attorney, Michael Avenatti, a frequent President Donald Trump critic whose involvement in the sexual accusations against Kavanaugh has attracted criticism.
Swetnick is the third woman to publicly implicate Kavanaugh in accusations of sexual misconduct. The account of a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, a former Kavanaugh classmate at Yale, was published in The New Yorker earlier this week.
Ramirez alleged that when she and Kavanaugh were Yale undergraduates, he exposed himself to Ramirez at a dormitory party, moving his penis in front of her face.
In a media appearance Wednesday afternoon, Kavanaugh’s attorney, Beth Wilkinson, said Kavanaugh denied the latest allegation from Swetnick. She also questioned why Avenatti did not take Swetnick’s allegations to the police.
“Judge Kavanaugh doesn’t know her. This never happened, and he said that over and over again, that he never engaged in any of that behavior,” Wilkinson told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “I’m asking you why in this process, which has been so debased on both sides, why are people who have these serious allegations not going to law enforcement themselves and saying, ‘Take a look at this?’”
“There must be a reason as a lawyer that [Avenatti] didn’t take these allegations to the police himself. No one is stopping him,” she said.
Wilkinson, appearing flabbergasted at times, said Kavanaugh would follow through with his confirmation process despite Senate Democrats’ calls to withdraw his nomination.
But, she asked, “Why would anyone want to put themselves up for confirmation ever again for any position in the government if this is what they have to go through?”
A Last-Ditch Lawsuit
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, filed a lawsuit in Washington, D.C., federal court Wednesday in a last ditch to block a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination. The lawsuit, seen as a long shot effort, cites an “unprecedented” decision by the Republican majority in the Senate to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination without allowing senators full access to records and documents related to the nominee.
“Senator Merkley has been injured by being prevented from performing the constitutional duty that he swore to perform when he took the oath of office,” the complaint said.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a liberal advocacy group that has opposed Kavanaugh’s nomination, represents Merkley.
The suit names seven defendants, including Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s Bill Burck.
The majority of documents that Democrats are seeking are records from Kavanaugh’s time as a staff secretary and lawyer in the George W. Bush White House.
Burck, as a personal attorney representing former President George W. Bush, has overseen the process for determining which records could be cleared for release, and which were privileged.
Burck also represents at least three individuals who have been tied up in special counsel Robert Mueller III’s investigation into any coordination between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. Those three are Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus and Donald McGahn.
“In this manner the executive branch substituted a vetting process by a neutral and professional agent, the National Archives, with a partisan agent. Defendant Burck has extensive conflicts of interest. He is not a neutral federal career employee,” Merkley’s attorneys wrote.