- Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, had his nomination rocked over the weekend by additional, graphic accusations of sexual misconduct.
- A New Yorker story on Sunday described an investigation by Senate Democrats into whether Kavanaugh exposed himself to and assaulted a woman in college.
- The lawyer Michael Avenatti also indicated he had a client who came forward with graphic allegations that Kavanaugh, while in high school, tried to use drugs and alcohol to rape women.
- Kavanaugh has previously denied any sexual misconduct and is set to take part in a public hearing Thursday with his first accuser.
- The allegations could cause trouble for him even in his current job as a federal judge.
Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, had his nomination rocked over the weekend by additional, graphic accusations of sexual misconduct – and his future in the legal profession has come into question.
A report in The New Yorker on Sunday indicated that Senate Democrats had launched an investigation into a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. The accuser, Deborah Ramirez, recalled with some difficulty a night in the early 1980s when she said Kavanaugh exposed himself to her and forced her into nonconsensual sexual contact.
On the same day, the outspoken lawyer Michael Avenatti claimed to represent a woman with information that Kavanaugh had tried in high school to use drugs and alcohol to facilitate the “gang rape” of women.
Those accusations follow that of Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University who said Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party when the two were in high school. Ford, after some back-and-forth, agreed to testify at a public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee this Thursday.
Kavanaugh has not responded publicly to Avenatti’s claims but has categorically denied any sexual misconduct.
“This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen,” Kavanaugh said following Ramirez’s allegation. “The people who knew me then know that this did not happen and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth and defending my good name – and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building – against these last-minute allegations.”
Kavanaugh’s confirmation by a Republican-controlled Senate seemed almost certain before Ford’s accusation delayed the process, but some legal experts now question whether he can overcome the latest allegations.
Nearing the tipping point
Benjamin Wittes, the editor in chief of Harvard’s Lawfare blog and someone who counts Kavanaugh as a friend, said as much in an article in The Atlantic.
“The standard for elevation to the nation’s highest court is not that the nominee established a ‘reasonable doubt’ that the serious allegations against him were true,” Wittes wrote, adding: “Even if he truly believes himself innocent, even if he is innocent – the better part of valor is to get out now.”
But even should Kavanaugh withdraw his name from consideration or be rejected by the Senate, questions have now come up about his current employment.
Any findings of misconduct could damage Kavanaugh’s standing as a federal judge on the DC Circuit, where he now serves. Even findings short of misconduct could cause problems for Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee. Federal judges have resigned over such controversies in the recent past.
Harvard law students have campaigned for their university to either investigate the accusations against Kavanaugh or dismiss him from a class he’s scheduled to teach there in 2019.
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