Everything to Know About the Allegations of Sexual Misconduct Against SCOTUS Nominee Brett Kavanaugh
Brett Kavanaugh was well on his way to having a career-defining moment — on July 9, he became President Donald Trump's nominee for the open seat on the Supreme Court. Then, things fell apart: On Sept. 16, a woman named Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the '80s when the were both teens. Then, a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, also accused the judge of a separate sexual assault.
Since then, numerous senators have called Kavanaugh unfit for the position on the Supreme Court, while others have attacked the credibility of his accusers. The entire situation is a mess, so if you're getting lost in the details, don't worry: We broke down everything you need to know.
Who is Brett Kavanaugh?
Kavanaugh serves as a United States Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was nominated by President Trump to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States following Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, which was announced in June. There were widespread protests against Kavanaugh's nomination over fear that the 53-year-old would challenge the outcome of Roe v. Wadeshould a similar case come before the court, thus resulting in the possibility of the case being overturned. Dozens of protestors were arrested.
What are the allegations?
On Sept. 16, The Washington Post published an account by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University. She alleged that Kavanaugh pinned her down at a house party in the '80s. At the time, Ford was 15 and Kavanaugh was 17. Ford alleged that there was another man in the room when Kavanaugh held her down, groped her, tried to remove her clothes and held a hand over her mouth as she screamed. “I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford told the Post. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Ford first revealed the assault to senator Dianne Feinstein in a confidential letter posted to her office in July. At the request of Ford, Feinstein did not initially go public with the letter. Only after word of the allegations leaked did Ford come forward to The Washington Post. She'd spoken of the incident once before on the record, during a marriage counseling session in 2012. Though she did not name Kavanaugh explicitly, she mentioned various factors (including occupation and place of residence) that match with Kavanaugh's background.
How did Kavanaugh respond to this allegation?
Kavanaugh has categorically denied the allegation. One week after the news of the allegation went public, on Sept. 23, Kavanaugh's team stated that a calendar from the year in which the assault allegedly happened showed no record or plans of going to a party.
Are there other accusations against Kavanaugh?
On Sept. 23, The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow (the journalist son of Mia Farrow who also had a hand in reporting significant portions of the Harvey Weinstein allegations) and Jane Mayer published a second allegation of sexual misconduct from Deborah Ramirez, one of Kavanaugh's Yale classmates. Ramirez alleges that he "thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away," while they were at a party in the '80s.
Ramirez was contacted by The New Yorker as part of an investigation into Kavanaugh's past. She did not initially want to come forward because she had been drinking at the time of the incident.
Kavanaugh also denies this allegation.
Additionally, Michael Avenatti — the lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels — claims to have information regarding a third victim, according to an interview with Politico. Avenatti told the publication that "he represents a group of individuals who can corroborate allegations involving Kavanaugh and his longtime friend in the 1980s," including one person he would describe as a victim.
Are there witnesses?
Mark Judge, who was later revealed to be the friend in the room when Ford's alleged assault occurred. He has also denied that the incident took place, calling the allegation "just absolutely nuts," in an interview with The Weekly Standard.
However, in the same New Yorker piece in which Ramirez came forward, Farrow reported that an ex-girlfriend of Judge, Elizabeth Rasor, "recalled that Judge had told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman. Rasor said that Judge seemed to regard it as fully consensual."
Per the New Yorker, Rasor said that "under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t reveal information that was told in confidence ... [but] I can’t stand by and watch him lie.”
How has President Trump responded to both allegations?
Though Kellyanne Conway, speaking as a representative of the White House, initially stated that with relative neutrality that Ford's story should be heard, Trump later expressed his true feelings on Twitter.
"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," he tweeted. "I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!" His comments sparked the powerful #WhyIDidntReport hashtag.
Trump has not yet commented on Ramirez's allegations.
And what about Kavanaugh's other supporters?
Many of Kavanaugh's supporters are echoing President Trump and calling the allegations a "smear campaign" orchestrated by Democrats in a highly partisan hearing. They argue that this is a "dangerous" tactic that could set a precedent for taking down conservative politicians.
Anything else to know about Kavanaugh's past?
During his time at Yale, Kavanaugh belonged to Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE); photos of pledges waving flags made of women's underwear during the judge's time in the fraternity have resurfaced thanks to the Yale Daily News, which also reports that in Kavanaugh's senior year, he joined Truth and Courage, an all-male secret society for seniors which was nicknamed "Tit and Clit."
Ford has agreed to testify in an open hearing on Sept. 27.