Sen. Orrin Hatch says Kavanaugh denied being at party described by accuser Ford

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told reporters Monday that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh categorically denied allegations that he committed sexual assault at a high school party in the early 1980s -- and told the senator he was not at a party similar to what his accuser described.

Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, made her name and her accusations public in an interview with The Washington Post Sunday. She claimed Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, tried to remove her clothing and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream.

In a statement to Fox News, Hatch's office said that Kavanaugh told the senator "he was not at a party like the one [Ford] describes" and added that Ford "may be mistaking [Kavanaugh] for someone else."

Also Monday, two of Kavanaugh's former girlfriends issued statements vouching for his character.

"I’ve been friends with Brett Kavanaugh for over 35 years, and dated him during high school," said one of the women, Maura Kane. "In every situation where we were together he always respectful, kind and thoughtful. The accusations leveled against him in no way represent the decent young man I knew. We remain good friends and I admire him as a husband, father and professional."

"Brett Kavanaugh and I have been good friends since high school," said the other woman, Maura Fitzgerald. "I dated him in college and he was and is nothing like the person who has been described. He always conducted himself honorably with me at all times when we were together. He was always a perfect gentleman, and I vouch for him completely."

Hatch, the Senate president pro tempore and third in the presidential line of succession behind Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan, told CNN that Kavanaugh was "upset" about the allegation and described him as "a very strong, decent man."

"I think she's mistaken," the 84-year-old Republican said of Ford. "She's mistaken something, but I don't know her."

Hatch's office later tweeted that the senator "does not have enough information about Dr. Ford and her accusations but looks forward to hearing more from her to get to the bottom of things."

A source close to the confirmation process told Fox News that Kavanaugh was scheduled to discuss the allegations with Judiciary Commitee staffers at 5:30 p.m. It was expected that only staffers for Republican senators would be on the call, as Democrats have advocated that the FBI investigate Ford's claims in lieu of further action by the committee.

"In view of the enormity and seriousness of these allegations, a staff-only phone call behind closed doors is unacceptable and Democratic staff will not participate. This isn’t how things should be done and is in complete violation of how this committee has worked in the past," Democrats on the committee said in a statement.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said Monday evening that "Judge Kavanaugh looks forward to a hearing where he can clear his name of this false allegation. He stands ready to testify tomorrow if the Senate is ready to hear him."

Moments later, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced that it had invited Kavanaugh and Ford to appear at a public hearing Sept. 24 to testify about the claims and postponed the originally scheduled Thursday vote. It was not clear whether Ford would appear at that hearing.

Fox News' Chad Pergram and Peter Doocy and The Associated Press contributed to this report.