A woman is accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her at a party while they were both in high school.
Kavanaugh, in a statement to The New Yorker, which broke the details of the encounter, denied the claim.
“I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation,” he said. “I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
The woman, whose identity is still not public, sent Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) a letter in the summer, after Kavanaugh was nominated, sharing her concerns about him.
The allegation dates back to the early nineteen-eighties, when Kavanaugh was a high-school student at Georgetown Preparatory School, in Bethesda, Maryland, and the woman attended a nearby high school. In the letter, the woman alleged that, during an encounter at a party, Kavanaugh held her down, and that he attempted to force himself on her. She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand. She was able to free herself. Although the alleged incident took place decades ago and the three individuals involved were minors, the woman said that the memory had been a source of ongoing distress for her, and that she had sought psychological treatment as a result.
The classmate who was reportedly with Kavanaugh said he has “no recollection” of the incident.
Rumors of this letter and sexual misconduct allegations have been swirling for weeks on Capitol Hill, with reporters and other Democratic senators pressing Feinstein, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, to share the information.
On Thursday, Feinstein finally acknowledged she had received a letter but did not want to give more details because the subject did not want to go public. She said she referred the matter to the FBI.
Sources close to Feinstein say she was acting out of concern for the privacy of the woman. But The New Yorker reports that Feinstein “conveyed to other Democratic members’ offices that the incident was too distant in the past to merit public discussion, and that Feinstein had ‘taken care of it.’” She also thought Democrats should focus on legal issues with Kavanaugh, rather than personal ones.
Republicans dismissed the revelation about the letter on Thursday. And on Friday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) retweeted someone who was mocking it as a game of telephone.
Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also released a letter Friday morning from 65 women who said they supported Kavanaugh.
The offices of Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who are considered possible “no” votes against Kavanaugh, did not immediately return a request for comment.
The White House put out a statement on Thursday, calling the controversy an “11th hour attempt to delay” Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh on Sept. 20.
This is a breaking news story and will continue to be updated.
Arthur Delaney and Shirish Date contributed reporting.