WASHINGTON — Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, facing mounting allegations of sexual impropriety and growing doubts over his confirmation to the Supreme Court, vowed on Monday to fight the “smears,” saying he will not withdraw his nomination.
“These are smears, pure and simple. And they debase our public discourse,” he wrote in a letter to the senior Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “But they are also a threat to any man or woman who wishes to serve our country. Such grotesque and obvious character assassination — if allowed to succeed — will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from service.”
“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process,” he continued. “The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. The last-minute character assassination will not succeed.”[Read Judge Kavanaugh’s letter.]
Senior Republicans are closing ranks around the nominee, and they echoed Judge Kavanaugh’s claims, accusing Democrats of running “a smear campaign” to derail his confirmation.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, is expected to deliver an unequivocal defense of Judge Kavanaugh when the Senate convenes Monday afternoon, laying out “why he will make an exceptional justice,” according to a top Republican aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the leader’s remarks.
Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, a senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee and its former chairman, issued a statement attacking Democrats, who he said “will stop at nothing to prevent Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation,” and called for the panel to vote on Judge Kavanaugh after a hearing set for Thursday. Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, agreed.
“The Democrats are engaged in a campaign of delay and character assassination against Judge Kavanaugh,” Mr. Cotton said Monday morning. “It’s time to vote this week.”
The comments from the Republicans — as well as from President Trump, who told reporters on Monday that he will back Judge Kavanaugh “all the way” — sought to put to rest speculation that the party’s support for the nominee could be cracking. In light of fresh allegations, Democrats have demanded that Republicans once again delay a hearing, now scheduled for Thursday, when one of Judge Kavanaugh’s accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, is to testify against him. Dr. Blasey has said that the judge sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers more than 30 years ago. Judge Kavanaugh has vigorously denied the allegation and has said he wants to testify to clear his name.
But just hours after lawyers for Dr. Blasey and Senate Judiciary Committee aides finished negotiations on the shape of Thursday’s hearing, new allegations began to surface. First, The New Yorker published an interview with a woman, Deborah Ramirez, who said that Judge Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drunken dormitory party during their first year at Yale.
The New York Times had interviewed several dozen people over the past week in an attempt to corroborate Ms. Ramirez’s story, and could find no one with firsthand knowledge. Ms. Ramirez herself contacted former Yale classmates asking if they recalled the episode and told some of them that she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself.
The New Yorker strongly stood by its story.
Adding to Republican concerns, Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film actress who claims to have had an affair with Mr. Trump before he became president, posted additional salacious allegations on Twitter. A spokesman for Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the Judiciary Committee chairman, said Republicans are looking into the new allegations, but they intend to continue with Thursday’s hearing as planned.
Republicans find themselves caught between the growing anger of many female voters over the Kavanaugh allegations and the demands of core conservative voters infuriated by what they see as a Democratic plot. Religious conservatives have doubled down on their support for Judge Kavanaugh, arguing that the developments are a last-ditch effort by Democrats to derail the conservative judicial agenda that Mr. Trump promised them in 2016.
And conservative judicial activists are keeping up the pressure on Republicans to plow forward.
“The White House is clearly very strongly behind him,” said Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative advocacy group that is coordinating support for Judge Kavanaugh. “We are very strongly behind him. If anything, I’m seeing conservatives more galvanized by what is going on because it has become such a pattern of unsubstantiated smears and character assassination.”
Judge Kavanaugh’s lawyers, Beth Wilkinson and Alexandra Walsh, assailed the New Yorker article on Monday as unfounded.
“It is facts and evidence that matter when accusations of this kind are made,” the lawyers said in a statement. “Notwithstanding that, the editors of The New Yorker chose to publicize a story describing an alleged incident from Judge Kavanaugh’s college days that not a single eyewitness could corroborate and that even the person making the allegation is herself uncertain about.”
They said that “testimony as well as documentary evidence from the time” will exonerate him of the allegation that he assaulted Dr. Blasey, presumably a reference to calendar pages that Judge Kavanaugh kept from the summer of 1982 that do not show a party clearly matching the small gathering Dr. Blasey has described.
“The unsubstantiated allegations that have been made against Judge Kavanaugh are serious — but so too is his right to be fully and fairly heard in responding to and unequivocally denying those allegations,” the lawyers said.
The police department in Montgomery County, Md., the affluent Washington suburb where Judge Kavanaugh grew up, issued a blanket statement denying the validity of a local news outlet’s claim of yet another accuser surfacing from his teenage years.
“At this time, the Montgomery County Police Department has not received a request by any alleged victim nor a victim’s attorney to initiate a police report or a criminal investigation regarding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh,” the department said in a statement Monday afternoon. The statement added, “The department, however, stands prepared to assist anyone who reports being the victim of a sexual assault.”