President Trump stood foursquare behind Brett Kavanaugh on Monday in the wake of new sexual misconduct allegations against his Supreme Court nominee, calling the uncorroborated claims “totally political” and “unfair.”
The president addressed the latest twist to jolt the most chaotic Supreme Court confirmation process in modern times on the sidelines of the United Nations meeting in New York.
“I am with Judge Kavanaugh,” Trump declared. “For people to come out of the woodwork from thirty-six years ago, and thirty years ago, and never mentioned it, all of a sudden it happened … totally political.”
The president, signaling the White House would dig in and defend Kavanaugh amid the onslaught of allegations, called the situation “one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate.”
The allegations at this stage have gone well beyond the sexual harassment claims leveled by Anita Hill against now-Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991. The result is a confirmation process that, in a matter of days, shifted from a virtual lock to a situation where the nominee is teetering on a knife edge, his success or failure depending on the latest media bombshells and their perceived credibility in the Senate.
The latest detailed accusation was made by Debbie Ramirez, who in a New Yorker article alleged Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a Yale University party.
Ramirez claimed Kavanaugh committed the act while she was intoxicated during a drinking game in the 1983-84 academic year, 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."
The report stated that the magazine had not corroborated that Kavanaugh was at the party in question. An anonymous male classmate said he was told that Kavanaugh had exposed himself to Ramirez within the following days.
Ramirez admitted to the magazine that she does 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 responded that the event “did not happen” and that the allegation is “a smear, plain and simple.”
The report emerged just as the Senate Judiciary Committee had scheduled a Thursday hearing to receive testimony from the nominee's first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges Kavanaugh held her down and tried to force himself on her while both were in high school.
The White House, meanwhile, pushed back hard, pointing in part to a New York Times report that said the newspaper could not back up Ramirez' claims.
“The Times had interviewed several dozen people over the past week in an attempt to corroborate her story, and could find no one with firsthand knowledge," the Times wrote in a story that followed the New Yorker report. "Ms. Ramirez herself contacted former Yale classmates asking if they recalled the incident and told some of them that she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself.”
The White House pointed to several other potential inconsistencies, noting the accuser admitted there were “gaps” in her memory and the magazine acknowledged no other eyewitnesses backed up the account.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, late Sunday slammed Senate Democrats for withholding information from the committee regarding the new sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh.
The Iowa Republican said the committee will attempt to evaluate the new claims, but said in a statement “it appears that they [Democrats] are more interested in a political takedown" than “pursing allegations through a bipartisan and professional investigative process.”
His office released the statement as a third potential allegation arose from Michael Avenatti, the attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims Kavanaugh and others targeted women with "alcohol/drugs" to allow men to gang rape them at high school parties. This accusation has lacked any corroboration to date.
Kavanaugh's staunchest allies have started to mount pressure for the Senate to proceed with a vote.
“This has all of the ingredients of a smear campaign on steroids," Judicial Crisis Network's Chief Counsel Carrie Severino said in a statement. "Senate Republicans should stand up to these unsubstantiated and discredited allegations and move forward with a vote to confirm Kavanaugh."
Fox News’ Eddie DeMarche and Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.