WASHINGTON (Circa) — Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh said Monday he will not be intimidated into withdrawing from the confirmation process by allegations of sexual misconduct that he rejected as “last-minute character assassination.”
“There is now a frenzy to come up with something—anything—that will block this process and a vote on my confirmation from occurring,” Kavanaugh wrote in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
Kavanaugh, who has been battling claims that he attempted to sexually assault someone during a high school party, sent the letter amid reports of a second accusation of inappropriate behavior when he was a freshman at Yale.
“These are smears, pure and simple,” he said, thanking Grassley for scheduling a hearing on the first allegations for Thursday. “And they debase our public discourse. But they are also a threat to any man or woman who wishes to serve our country. Such grotesque and obvious character assassination—if allowed to succeed—will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from service.”
The nomination of Kavanaugh by President Donald Trump to fill the seat vacated by retired Justice Anthony Kennedy has sparked intense partisan warfare on Capitol Hill as he inches closer to confirmation for a lifetime appointment to the high court. Republicans have accused Democrats of shamefully impugning a respected judge’s reputation for political gain, while Democrats allege Republicans have no desire to get to the truth about the claims.
This is what we know about the allegations, all of which Kavanaugh denies:
In a July 2018 letter to Feinstein, Christine Blasey Ford claimed she was assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh and another student, Mark Judge, during a party in the summer of 1982. According to Ford, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her, and attempted to remove her clothes. She said he put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. She claimed she managed to escape and briefly locked herself in a bathroom before leaving the house.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford told The Washington Post earlier this month.
Kavanaugh and Judge have both adamantly denied Ford’s claims. Another student Ford recalled as being at the party, Patrick Smyth, said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he has no knowledge of the party or the allegations against Kavanaugh. A longtime friend of Ford who she also recalled was at the party, Leland Ingham Keyser, denied any recollection of being at a party where Kavanaugh was present in a statement issued by her lawyer Sunday.
Ford’s attorney downplayed Keyser’s denial in a statement to Politico, saying, “It’s not surprising that Ms. Keyser has no recollection of the evening as they did not discuss it. It’s also unremarkable that Ms. Keyser does not remember attending a specific gathering 30 years ago at which nothing of consequence happened to her.”
Kavanaugh graduated from Georgetown Prep in 1983. CNN obtained a copy of the school’s yearbook from that year. A page dedicated to Kavanaugh mentions “Keg City Club” and “100 kegs or bust.” In a 1997 book, his friend Mark Judge recounted wild high school parties and an effort to drink 100 kegs of beer by the end of their senior year.
1983-1984 academic year
According to Debbie Ramirez, Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drinking game at a party when they were both freshmen at Yale. Ramirez recently told The New Yorker a male student she believes was Kavanaugh put his genitals in front of her face when she was drunk, and she touched his penis inadvertently when pushing him away, leaving her “embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated.” She claimed she saw Kavanaugh pulling up his pants afterward and heard another student yell “Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis on Debbie’s face.”
Kavanaugh denied this ever happened and the White House alleged it is part of “a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man.” The New Yorker contacted several dozen former classmates and found nobody who witnessed the alleged incident. One student was “100 percent sure” he heard about it at the time, but several others who Ramirez claimed were involved explicitly denied it. Ramirez said she told her mother and sister about an “upsetting incident” afterward but did not give them specific details.
According to attorney Michael Avenatti, “significant evidence” and “multiple witnesses” will show that Kavanaugh, Judge and others targeted women with drugs and alcohol in order to sexually assault them at house parties in the early 1980s. Avenatti made this claim first on Twitter Sunday and then in an email to Mike Davis, chief counsel for nominations for the Senate Judiciary Committee. He provided nothing to back up that claim, but he insisted his client is someone with multiple security clearances who “has previously done work within the State Dept, U.S. Mint, & DOJ.”
Kavanaugh graduated from Yale College.
Kavanaugh graduated from Yale Law School.
Kavanaugh underwent his first FBI background check for a position as clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. He would pass several more background checks in the following years as he went on to work for special counsel Kenneth Starr and President George W. Bush.
Kavanaugh was confirmed to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals by a vote of 67-30.
According to The Washington Post, Ford said she first discussed the alleged assault during a couple’s therapy session in 2012. Therapist notes reviewed by The Post say Ford described being attacked by students from “an elitist boys’ school.” The notes say four boys were involved in the attack. According to Ford, this was a mistake on the therapist’s part and she only said two boys were in room.
The notes do not name the assailants, but Ford’s husband told The Post she mentioned Kavanaugh’s last name during the sessions, as well as the possibility that he might someday be nominated to the Supreme Court.
In an individual therapy session, Ford again described a “rape attempt” in her late teens, according to the therapist’s notes.
At the height of the #MeToo movement, Ford reportedly told a neighbor she was assaulted as a teen by a guy who is now a federal judge. The friend told The Mercury News that Ford said the judge “might be a contender for a Supreme Court position one day.”
June 27, 2018
After Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, Brett Kavanaugh’s name promptly emerged as a potential replacement.
July 6, 2018
According to a letter she wrote to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Ford first contacted a “local government representative” about her allegations on July 6.
July 9, 2018
President Trump introduced Kavanaugh as his nominee for the Supreme Court during an event at the White House, saying, “There is no one in America more qualified for this position, and no one more deserving.”
Ford met with Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and told her story. Eshoo told The Associated Press Ford wanted to get her allegations into the hands of responsible officials while protecting her anonymity.
After the meeting, Eshoo spoke to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., about Ford’s allegations. Feinstein suggested Ford put her claims in a letter.
July 30, 2018
Eshoo had Ford’s letter hand-delivered to Feinstein’s office in Washington. In it, Ford urged Feinstein to keep the information confidential until they have a chance to speak.
“My sense was, I had passed it over into very capable hands,” Eshoo told The Associated Press.
Ford hired attorney Debra Katz and took a polygraph test, which she later told The Washington Post she passed. She also collected notes from her 2012 and 2013 counseling sessions in which she discussed the alleged assault.
Sept. 4-7, 2018
Kavanaugh faced days of intense questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee about his past, his character and his judicial philosophy. At this point, Feinstein had not shared the contents of the letter with any of her colleagues. The allegations also were not addressed in 1,200 additional written questions Kavanaugh replied to the following week.
Early Sept. 2018
The New Yorker contacted Debbie Ramirez after learning of a possible incident involving her and Kavanaugh. She was reluctant to implicate him with any certainty at first due to gaps in her memory and the fact that she was drinking at the time of the event. After consulting with her attorney and reassessing her memory for six days, she agreed to speak on the record.
Sept. 12, 2018
The Intercept reported Feinstein had a secret letter that makes sexual misconduct claims against Kavanaugh. Feinstein referred the letter to the FBI, which placed it in his background file.
Sept. 13, 2018
Feinstein publicly acknowledged she received “information” about Kavanaugh from someone who “strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further.” Despite Democrats’ calls for a delay, the Judiciary Committee scheduled a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination for Sept. 20.
Sept. 14, 2018
The New Yorker reported specific details of Ford’s claim for the first time without naming her. Kavanaugh issued a statement denying the allegations and Mark Judge told the Weekly Standard the story is “absolutely nuts.”
In a letter to Grassley and Feinstein, 65 women who knew Kavanaugh when he was in high school defended his character and his treatment of women.
Sept. 16, 2018
The Washington Post publicly identifies Christine Blasey Ford as the victim in the 1982 alleged assault. Reporters spoke to Ford, her husband and others about what she claims happened and when she first told them about it.
Sept. 17, 2018
Ford’s attorney floated the prospect of her speaking with senators publicly about the allegations as Kavanaugh issued a statement saying he is willing to testify before the Judiciary Committee to clear his name. Grassley delayed the committee’s vote and announced a Sept. 24 hearing where Kavanaugh and Ford could testify without confirming that she would attend.
Sept. 18, 2018
Amid demands from Ford and Democrats that the FBI investigate her allegations before any hearing is held, President Trump rejected calls to re-open Kavanaugh’s FBI background check.
Sept. 19, 2018
"I don't doubt that [Ford] believes what she says, and in fact, I have a responsibility to give deference to that, at least until I hear it, and to make a determination afterwards if it is possible to make a determination,” Grassley told Iowa reporters during a conference call.
In a letter, Grassley brushed aside Ford’s calls for an FBI investigation and insisted it was the Senate’s responsibility to assess her claim under its “advise and consent” role.
“The FBI does not make a credibility assessment of any information it receives with respect to a nominee. Nor is it tasked with investigating a matter simply because the Committee deems it important,” Grassley wrote.
Sept. 20, 2018
Ford’s attorney laid out her conditions for testifying, including that she wanted to testify after Kavanaugh, that she did not want him present when she testified, that she wanted to be questioned by senators rather than an outside attorney, and that she could testify as early as the following Thursday.
Republicans responded that they would hold a hearing Wednesday and she would have to testify first. If Ford would not testify in some form, several GOP senators said they were prepared to move ahead with a vote. In a letter to Grassley, Kavanaugh stressed that he was willing to testify “as soon as possible, so that I can clear my name.”
Sept. 21, 2018
Deadlines set by Grassley for Ford to commit to testifying expired with negotiations still ongoing. At a Values Voters Summit, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told conservatives Republicans would “plow right through it.”
"In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court,” McConnell said, drawing allegations from Democrats that Republicans have already discounted Ford’s accusations without a hearing.
President Trump questioned the credibility of Kavanaugh’s accuser, tweeting, “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!”
Sept. 22, 2018
Sept. 23, 2018
On Sunday night, The New Yorker posted Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer’s story detailing Debbie Ramirez’s claims about Kavanaugh. It offered no corroborating witnesses and cited a statement disputing the story by two people Ramirez claimed were present and the wife of a third. However, it also quoted one classmate who recalled hearing about the incident at the time and another who doubts Ramirez would make up the story and considers it believable that Kavanaugh was involved.
Kavanaugh and the White House issued forceful denials of the New Yorker report.
“This is a smear, plain and simple,” Kavanaugh said. “I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name—and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building—against these last-minute allegations.”
Avenatti tweeted that he represents “a woman with credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge” and demanded that Judge be subpoenaed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Hours later, he emailed Davis, the chief counsel for nominations, with a list of questions he believes Kavanaugh should be asked about whether he ever witnessed or participated in targeting intoxicated women for gang rape. Again, Avenatti offered no evidence to support this allegation and no additional details.
Sept. 24, 2018
President Trump reaffirmed his support for Kavanaugh Monday and dismissed the allegations against him as “totally political.”
“I am with him all the way,” Trump told reporters at the United Nations.