Sexual Assault Allegations Against Brett Kavanaugh Are Shaking Up His Confirmation – UPDATE

by Hannah Golden
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On Friday, Sept. 14, reports surfaced that the Democrats in the Senate had referred an alleged incident to the FBI regarding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. According to The New Yorker, Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's pick for the vacant seat, is alleged to have sexually assaulted a woman while they were both in high school. Kavanaugh has denied the claims, and the news has prompted the question of whether the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh will affect his confirmation to the vacant seat. Elite Daily reached out to the White House and to Kavanaugh's federal court office for comment, but did not hear back at time of publication.

UPDATE: On Sunday, Sept. 16, Christine Blasey Ford revealed herself as the anonymous accuser of the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh that were reported on Friday, Sept. 14, per The Washington Post. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment, and they provided nominee Kavanaugh's statement from Friday, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

EARLIER: The reported allegations were detailed in a letter from the woman Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted, the full contents of which remain unclear. The New Yorker reports that the letter claims that Kavanaugh and another male classmate, while at a party, had taken the woman, who has not been publicly named, to a bedroom and locked the door, where Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted the woman. The reported allegations further claim that Kavanaugh physically restrained her, put his hand over her mouth, and turned up music to cover up the noise of her protests. The woman was allegedly able to free herself. Elite Daily reached out to Kavanaugh's federal court office for comment on the reported allegations, but did not hear back at time of publication. The contents of the letter, though still not public, were largely corroborated by sources familiar with it in a New York Times report Friday that followed. Per the Times, the woman regards the incident as a case of sexual assault.

Kavanaugh, in a statement released Friday, pushed back against the allegations. "I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time," read his statement, per NPR.

The letter detailing the alleged incident was reportedly given to the woman's representatives in California, per The New Yorker. It was reportedly first distributed to Bay Area Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats, via a Stanford Law professor. Feinstein on Thursday then reportedly turned the letter over to the FBI. A spokeswoman for Eshoo declined to provide any information or comment on the letter to Elite Daily, citing confidentiality policy concerning a constituent. The spokeswoman would also not confirm whether she had in fact received the letter.

The undisclosed letter was reportedly referred to the FBI on Thursday, and Politico reports that copies of the letter were distributed to White House counsel Don McGahn and to the Senate Judiciary Committee shortly thereafter. Additionally, the FBI reportedly updated its Senate report on Kavanaugh to include the letter, giving senators access to it. A White House aide told Politico that the committee got the letter about an hour after McGahn.

Responding to the allegations against the Supreme Court pick, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley released a letter signed by 65 women who claim they knew Kavanaugh in high school, defending his character and treatment of women. "We are women who have known Brett Kavanaugh for more than 35 years and knew him while he attended high school between 1979 and 1983," the statement reads. "For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect."

Politico reports that as soon as Republican senators became aware of the letter, they snapped into action to round up the women who could vouch for his character. Some on Twitter viewed this effort itself as damning.

The allegations add fuel to an already-hot fire surrounding the Supreme Court nominee. The week of Sept. 3 saw a contentious series of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in which Kavanaugh's stances and truthfulness were repeatedly called into question. Senate Democrats have largely avoided making any further statements on the allegations but progressive groups have calling for the Kavanaugh nomination to be withdrawn altogether.

Though there is precedent for withdrawing Supreme Court nominees, the White House did not respond to Elite Daily's request for comment about whether it was considering withdrawing Kavanaugh's nomination.

In a statement, Planned Parenthood Federation of America Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said:

Sexual assault is a violent abuse of power and should disqualify anyone from serving on the highest court in the land. Kavanaugh's record of undermining women's health and constitutional rights should already prevent his confirmation from moving forward. These serious allegations raise even more questions about what we don't know about Judge Kavanaugh.

This adds to overwhelming calls from progressive groups concerned about the judge's record on women's rights, particularly abortion and whether he would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade. In the confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh dodged direct questions about his personal stances on whether the case, which legalized the right to abortion, was decided correctly, stressing only that it's established precedent. So the pressure on senators on whether to confirm him continues to mount.

The judiciary committee vote on how to recommend Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court is still scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 20, after which time the vote will go before the full Senate. In the meantime, attention has turned more than ever to the two female GOP senators whose votes remain undecided: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. Whether the FBI referral will have any bearing on theirs or other senators' votes to confirm him, or whether Kavanaugh's nomination will be withdrawn altogether, still remains unknown.