A second allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh emerged Sunday even as a potential made for TV drama appeared to be set with Kavanaugh's initial accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, agreeing to testify this week in an open Hill hearing.
Separately, Michael Avenatti, lawyer to adult film actress and alleged Donald Trump mistress Stormy Daniels, has reportedly said he has witnesses who can back up that second allegation and called on Senate to hear testimony for them.
The latest twists continued to put what was once thought to be a "done deal" confirmation by the Republican majority in further jeopardy.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee vetting Kavanaugh's nomination suggested it was yet another timed bombshell in a Democratic "political takedown" of the nominee," but added "Of course, we will attempt to evaluate these new claims."
In any event, if the planned Sept. 27 hearing proceeds with Blasey and Kavanaugh, it could be another made-for TV moment akin to the Anita Hill appearance before the committee during the confirmation hearing for Justice Clarence Thomas, as well as the next milepost in the #MeToo movement. Ronan Farrow, who broke the Harvey Weinstein sexual assaults story, was co-author of Sunday's story.
Kavanaugh is familiar in communications circles in his present job as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where he has weighed in against the FCC's 2015 Open Internet order and could be a key vote in any net neutrality-related appeal that comes before the High Court.
The second accusation against Kavanaugh was published on The New Yorker web site, and came after Sen. Judiciary chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) had agreed to cancel a Monday (Sept. 24) vote on Kavanaugh's nomination.
That second accusation came from Yale classmate of Kavanaugh's, Deborah Ramirez--Blasey's alleged incident had occurred when they were both in high school.
Kavanaugh strongly denied the allegation, as he has the first, while the White House painted it as a Democratic ploy.
“This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen," said Kavanaugh, in a statement circulated to the press by the White House. "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.”
Grassely also viewed the timing of the Ramirez allegation skeptically.
"Yet again, Senate Democrats actively withheld information from the rest of the Committee only to drop information at politically opportune moments," he said. "It increasingly appears that they are more interested in a political takedown than pursuing allegations through a bipartisan and professional investigative process."
"The committee’s majority staff learned the allegations made by Deborah Ramirez about Judge Kavanaugh from this evening’s 'New Yorker' report. Neither she nor her legal representative have contacted the chairman’s office. The article reports that Democratic staff were aware of these allegations, but they never informed Republican staff."
As to Avenatti's claim to having supporting material, Grassley said: "Shortly after Mr. Avenatti announced that he may have information pertinent to the committee’s consideration of the Supreme Court nomination, the chairman’s office emailed him directly to request any relevant information he might have. Mr. Avenatti publicly Tweeted his response to committee staff. The committee staff requested that Mr. Avenatti provide any evidence that he claims to have."
Late Sunday, following the New Yorker piece publication, the White House emailed reporters a summary of what it said they needed to know about the new allegations. That included Kavanaugh's denial and citations from the New Yorker piece. Those included that "Ramirez was reluctant to speak with certainty on the allegation," admitted there were gaps in her memory because she had been drinking at the time, that the New Yorker found no eyewitnesses to the event and that "it took six days of “assessing her memories” for Ramirez to say she recalled Kavanaugh committing the alleged incident, and that came only after consulting with an attorney."provided by the Democrats.
The second accusation came at about the same time Grassley was outlining the status of the Thursday hearing on the first accusation.
That included that in the committee's investigation of the claim, it had gotten statements from some of the people Blasey initially claimed had been at the party where Kavanaugh had allegedly sexually assaulted her, all of whom, which included Kavanaugh, had said they did not remember such an incident.
Grassley also pointed out that a former schoolmate of Dr. Ford’s—Christina King Miranda—had recanted her claim that the incident "did happen," telling NPR "she 'ha[d] no idea' whether the incident 'happened or not.'"
“We believe Deborah Ramirez. We believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Brett Kavanaugh must withdraw," said women's advocacy group UltraViolet.
"We believe Deborah Ramirez. Brett Kavanaugh should be impeached – not promoted," said Credo Action, part of Credo Mobile a phones services company that donates to progressive causes. It has been active in opposition to the Kavanaugh nomination, and also wants him removed from the D.C. Appeals Court.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.