Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has rejected a claim published by The New Yorker that top Republicans knew about the latest sexual misconduct allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh days in advance of the magazine's story on Sunday.
Meanwhile, The New Yorker on Monday updated its piece to reflect that two students who had sharply disputed the accusations by Kavanaugh's accuser now said they felt uncomfortable contradicting her claims, even though they continued to say they had no first-hand knowledge that Kavanaugh had done anything wrong.
In the piece, co-bylined by Pulitzer Prize winner Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer, The New Yorker reported that "[s]enior Republican staffers ... learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination."
The piece did not explicitly specify that the Republican staffers were employed by Senate offices. However, Farrow and Mayer suggested as much, writing in the first paragraph of their article: "Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote."
But in a statement Sunday night, Grassley, R-Iowa, flatly denied the implication that Senate Republicans had advance knowledge of the allegations by former Kavanaugh classmate Debbie Ramirez.
"The committee’s majority staff learned the allegations made by Deborah Ramirez about Judge Kavanaugh from this evening’s New Yorker report," Grassley said in the statement.
He also pointed to the article's reporting that the "offices of at least four Democratic senators have received information about the allegation, and at least two have begun investigating it."
"Neither she nor her legal representative have contacted the chairman’s office," Grassley continued. "The article reports that Democratic staff were aware of these allegations, but they never informed Republican staff."
"[T]hey never informed Republican staff."
On Monday, The New Yorker appended an update to its story: "This story was updated with comments from two former classmates of Kavanaugh, Louisa Garry and Dino Ewing, who initially signed a statement of support for Kavanaugh provided by his attorneys. They approached The New Yorker after this story was published and asked that their names be removed from the statement, saying that they did not wish to dispute Ramirez’s claims."
Garry told The New Yorker: "I never saw or heard anything like this. But I cannot dispute Ramirez’s allegations, as I was not present." Ewing added, "I also was not present and therefore am not in a position to directly dispute Ramirez’s account."
Initially, both had signed their names onto a statement that read, "[I]f the incident Debbie alleges ever occurred, we would have seen or heard about it—and we did not. The behavior she describes would be completely out of character for Brett."
In the story, Ramirez claimed Kavanaugh exposed himself to her while she was intoxicated during a drinking game in the 1983-84 academic year at Yale University, when Kavanaugh was a freshman.
She also claimed she inadvertently touched Kavanaugh's penis when she pushed him away and said the incident left her "embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated."
Kavanaugh has denied the allegations, calling them part of an organized smear campaign. He appeared exclusively on Fox News Monday, along with his wife, Ashley, and called for a "fair" hearing into the allegations.
The New Yorker's report stated that the magazine had not corroborated Kavanaugh was at the party in question. An anonymous classmate said he was told Kavanaugh had exposed himself to Ramirez during the following days.
Ramirez admitted to the magazine that she did not fully remember the alleged incident because she had been drinking at the time. The magazine also reported that Ramirez spent six days "carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney" before telling the full version of her story.
Kavanaugh's confirmation was first roiled earlier this month amid sexual assault allegations by Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor who said Kavanaugh forcibly threw her on a bed and covered her mouth at a house party in the 1980s.
Ford has told The Washington Post there were a total of "four boys at the party" where the alleged episode occurred, and that two -- Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge -- had been in the room during her attack. She said her therapist had made an error by indicating she had told him in 2012 that all four boys had been involved in attacking her.
Those boys purportedly included Kavanaugh, Judge, and another classmate, Patrick Smyth -- all of whom have since denied to the Senate Judiciary Committee, under penalty of felony, any knowledge of the particular party in question, as well as any misconduct by Kavanaugh.
However, a woman, Leland Ingham Keyser, a former classmate of Ford's at the Holton-Arms all-girls school in Maryland, has since been identified by Ford as the fourth witness at the party. Keyser said Saturday night that she didn't know Kavanaugh, and didn't remember being at the party with him.
In a full-throated defense of Kavanaugh on the Senate floor on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., slammed Democrats for leaking Ford's accusation to the media after sitting on it for more than six weeks, which he said had compromised her desired anonymity.
McConnell also noted that "literally every person who was supposedly there" during Kavanaugh's alleged assaults have disputed that the episodes occurred at all.
He called for an up-or-down vote after a planned Thursday hearing, where both Kavanaugh and Ford are still scheduled to speak. After days of delaying, Ford's attorneys definitively indicated she will attend the hearing over the weekend -- but top Democrats have since called for additional delays in the wake of The New Yorker story.
Fox News' Alex Pappas contributed to this report.