The second woman to accuse Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct remains engaged in a standoff with Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans, even as the panel grapples with two other sets of allegations.
Deborah Ramirez, who claims Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party in the 1980s at Yale University, has signaled through her attorney she's willing to provide information to the committee but is demanding an FBI probe first.
But the two sides are struggling to agree on the terms for even an initial conversation. This, as the committee prepares to hear Thursday from first accuser Christine Ford, who says Kavanaugh tried to force himself on her at a high school party, and vets the late-breaking accusation from a woman represented by lawyer Michael Avenatti that Kavanaugh was involved in "gang" rapes during that period.
Kavanaugh has denied all the accusations.
Republican staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee first learned about Ramirez’s claims from an article published by The New Yorker on Sunday evening.
Fox News obtained an email chain between committee Republicans and Ramirez's legal team regarding how the committee might review her allegations.
Michael Davis, the committee’s chief counsel on nominations, first reached out to attorneys for Ramirez on Sunday evening, following the publication of the article.
“Please let us know when Ms. Ramirez is available for an interview with Senate Judiciary Committee investigators,” Davis wrote in the email. “We are determined to take Ms. Ramirez’s statement and investigate further as necessary and as quickly as possible.”
Ramirez’s attorney responded, thanking him for the email and saying he would “consult” with Ramirez and be in touch. Monday afternoon, Ramirez attorney John Clune responded to Davis.
“I am responding to your email of September 23 regarding the information that Deborah Ramirez has regarding events at Yale University during her freshman year, 1983-84. Our client has accurately relayed what she recalls to the New Yorker but, as she states in the article, she would welcome an investigation by the FBI into this information and would cooperate with such,” Clune wrote. “On appropriate terms, she would also agree to be interviewed in person.”
Davis replied, asking whether Ramirez had “any other evidence, including other statements, in addition to those that are contained in the New Yorker article.”
“Is Ms. Ramirez willing to provide her evidence, including her testimony, to committee investigators?” Davis asked.
A Democratic staffer for committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein weighed in, suggesting they discuss the possibility of Ramirez speaking “directly with members, not at the staff level.”
Clune and Feinstein’s staffer appeared to agree to a phone call, but Davis weighed in again asking that Ramirez’s counsel provide answers to his questions, prior to discussing “next steps.”
“There are certainly more witnesses than in the article,” Clune replied. “That would be the benefit of an actual investigation conducted by the FBI. We don’t see how you can get to the root of the matter without that.”
Davis then asked for “evidence in the form of a letter or email to the Chairman and Ranking Member, a letter or email from counsel to the Chairman and Ranking Member, or a statement to committee investigators.”
In a later email, Davis wrote that “before we discuss a phone call or any other next steps, again, we need to have the following information,” again noting that GOP staff needed an answer to whether Ramirez had any other evidence in addition to the article, and whether she would be willing to provide it, or testimony, to the committee.
The Democratic staffer weighed in again, slamming Davis for “[refusing]” to talk with Ramirez’s counsel, noting that the committee “does not usually place preconditions on getting on the phone to discuss next steps.”
Davis reached out, via email, requesting information seven times since Sunday.
Staff for committee Democrats held a phone call with Clune and Ramirez’s other attorneys on Tuesday evening, which Davis was invited to join. He did not participate in the call.
“The difficulty is every time we try to set up a phone call, the majority party either changes the rules of the phone call or they want additional information as a condition of even having a phone call with us,” Clune told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Tuesday. “We finally had a phone call scheduled for 7 o’clock Eastern this evening, we got on the phone, and only the minority party showed. … So feels like there’s a lot of game-playing that’s going on right now by the majority party.”
Clune suggested his client is willing to provide information to the Senate if a "meaningful" FBI probe is launched.
A spokesperson for committee Republicans told Fox News on Wednesday that they wanted Ramirez’s legal team to provide a statement or further evidence so that they could have a “productive phone call.”
“We’ve asked her counsel for statement or evidence regarding the allegation, and they’ve just not done that,” the GOP committee aide told Fox News Wednesday.
The New Yorker article published Sunday revealed fresh accusations of misconduct against Kavanaugh, alleging that he exposed his genitals in Ramirez’s face during a drinking game at a dorm party in the early 1980s.
Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegation and the allegation first brought against him by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who said that he pinned her down and tried to remove her clothing at a high school party. Ford considered the incident to be “attempted rape,” her lawyer said.
But Wednesday afternoon, Kavanaugh faced a new allegation brought forth by Michael Avenatti. His client, Julie Swetnick, alleged that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge drugged the “punch” at parties and took advantage of women. She accused Kavanaugh and Judge of being involved in “gang” rapes and alleged that she was a victim of a rape where Kavanaugh and Judge were present.
Avenatti serves as an attorney for adult film star Stormy Daniels, who was paid $130,000 in the weeks leading up to the presidential election in exchange for her silence about an alleged one-time sexual encounter with President Trump.
Trump blasted Avenatti as a “third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations,” standing by his Supreme Court pick.
Kavanaugh also blasted the new allegations as false.
“This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened,” Kavanaugh said in a statement Wednesday.
At this point, it is unclear whether Ford will appear for her scheduled hearing Thursday. It also remains unclear whether Ramirez will appear before the committee in any capacity.
Clune did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Republicans on the committee are currently investigating the Swetnick allegations.