Democrats alerted the FBI on Thursday to decades-old sexual-misconduct allegations against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, according to reports and a person familiar with the matter.
The potentially damning claims, which come as the Senate prepares to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the highest court in the land, were made in a letter obtained by Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic source told the New York Daily News.
Two officials briefed on the letter’s contents told The New York Times the allegations relate to possible sexual misconduct between Kavanaugh and an unidentified woman when they were both in high school.
The specific nature of the allegations was not immediately known. Kavanaugh, 53, graduated from Georgetown Preparatory, an all-boys Jesuit high school in North Bethesda, Md.
“We have no knowledge regarding any accusation,” school spokesman Patrick Coyle said in an email.
Feinstein, D-Calif., informed her fellow committee Democrats about the letter Wednesday evening, the sources said. Several of the Democrats advised her to contact the FBI.
Spokespeople for the FBI did not respond to requests for comment.
The Democratic source said the letter was recently given to Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who in turn handed it over to Feinstein.
Feinstein acknowledged in a statement that an individual who “strongly requested confidentiality” flagged information about Kavanaugh that she found concerning enough to contact “federal investigative authorities.”
A spokesman for Eshoo did not return a request for comment.
White House spokeswoman Kerri Kupec did not outright deny the allegations against Kavanaugh but blasted Democrats for introducing them so late in the process.
“Throughout his confirmation process, Judge Kavanaugh has had 65 meetings with senators – including with Senator Feinstein – sat through over 30 hours of testimony, addressed over 2,000 questions in a public setting and additional questions in a confidential session,” Kupec said in a statement. “Not until the eve of his confirmation has Sen. Feinstein or anyone raised the specter of new ‘information’ about him.”
Committee Democrats have accused Kavanaugh of evading questions during last week’s confirmation hearings and continue to excoriate their Republican colleagues for refusing to release hundreds of thousands of documents from his time as President George W. Bush’s staff secretary.
The Democrats attempted Thursday to subpoena the records, but Republicans rejected the efforts on party-line votes. Hours after the subpoena attempts were quashed, Feinstein issued her statement about the mysterious letter.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he still intends to hold a committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination Sept. 20. If confirmed by the committee, Kavanaugh’s nomination will be put up to a floor vote by the full Senate.
“At this time, he has not seen the letter in question, and is respecting the request for confidentiality,” a spokesman for Grassley said. “There’s no plan to change the committee’s consideration of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.”
Kupec suggested, ostensibly without proof, that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was behind the sexual misconduct claims against Kavanaugh.
“Sen. Schumer promised to ‘oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have,’ and it appears he is delivering with this eleventh-hour attempt to delay his confirmation,” Kupec said.
Schumer pushed back on Kupec’s claim.
“Sen. Schumer has not had access to the letter but believes the Senate Judiciary Committee is handling it appropriately,” a spokesman for the senator told the Daily News.
Kavanaugh, a longtime conservative and federal appeals judge, would tilt the court significantly to the right if confirmed.
The 53-year-old was tapped by Trump to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has served as a crucial swing vote on the bench for decades, siding with liberals on divisive issues such as abortion and gay rights.
Democrats and abortion-rights activists fear Kavanaugh would be in favor of undermining or even overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion nationwide. Kavanaugh has refused to divulge his personal opinion on Roe, saying only he considers the decision “settled” law.
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