Brett Kavanaugh has faced opposition since he was announced as president Trump’s second nominee for the US Supreme Court. But an accusation of sexual misconduct from a California professor has made this confirmation about more than just political differences.
A confidential letter sent to senator Dianne Feinstein by Christine Ford claims that Kavanaugh assaulted her during a party in high school 30 years ago.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Ford alleged that as a high school student in suburban Maryland just outside of Washington, a "stumbling drunk" Kavanaugh pinned her down, groped her and attempted to remove her clothing.
Last week, Mr Kavanaugh said he "categorically and unequivocally" denies the allegations.
The letter, sent by Ford in July, reads as follows:
Dear senator Feinstein;
I am writing with information relevant in evaluating the current nominee to the Supreme Court.
As a constituent, I expect that you will maintain this as confidential until we have further opportunity to speak.
Brett Kavanaugh physically and sexually assaulted me during high school in the early 1980's. He conducted these acts with the assistance of REDACTED.
Both were one to two years older than me and students at a local private school.
The assault occurred in a suburban Maryland area home at a gathering that included me and four others.
Kavanaugh physically pushed me into a bedroom as I was headed for a bathroom up a short stair well from the living room. They locked the door and played loud music precluding any successful attempt to yell for help.
Kavanaugh was on top of me while laughing with REDACTED, who periodically jumped onto Kavanaugh. They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state. With Kavanaugh's hand over my mouth I feared he may inadvertently kill me.
From across the room a very drunken REDACTED said mixed words to Kavanaugh ranging from "go for it" to "stop."
At one point when REDACTED jumped onto the bed the weight on me was substantial. The pile toppled, and the two scrapped with each other. After a few attempts to get away, I was able to take this opportune moment to get up and run across to a hallway bathroom. I locked the bathroom door behind me. Both loudly stumbled down the stair well at which point other persons at the house were talking with them. I exited the bathroom, ran outside of the house and went home.
I have not knowingly seen Kavanaugh since the assault. I did see REDACTED once at the REDACTED where he was extremely uncomfortable seeing me.
I have received medical treatment regarding the assault. On July 6 I notified my local government representative to ask them how to proceed with sharing this information . It is upsetting to discuss sexual assault and its repercussions, yet I felt guilty and compelled as a citizen about the idea of not saying anything.
I am available to speak further should you wish to discuss. I am currently REDACTED and will be in REDACTED.
In confidence, REDACTED.
Ford’s serious allegations have sent shock waves through Washington and across the US. Following the details becoming public, Feinstein tweeted suggesting that Kavanaugh’s confirmation should be delayed.
I agree with Senator Flake that we should delay this week's vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination. There's a lot of… https://t.co/j8krCLRFJM
— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@Senator Dianne Feinstein)
She is not alone. Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti and US senator Doug Jones also suggest that the nomination process should be paused until these accusations can be investigated.
Professor Christine Blasey Ford has made a serious and credible accusation that should be investigated.
Trump has remained unusually silent on the allegations. Yet Politico reported that he is likely to side with his nominee instead of his accuser. As of December 2017, 20 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. He was also infamously captured bragging about touching women without their consent weeks before the 2016 presidential election.
Three people close to the White House said they expect Trump to go after Kavanaugh's accuser rather than to turn on… https://t.co/Deg2Iu0TAb
With no official statement from the White House and Republican senators keeping relatively quiet, Kavanaugh’s nomination hangs in the balance.
Since he was announced as Trump’s nominee, pro-choice advocates have voiced concern that Kavanaugh will move to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling issued in 1973 that legalised abortion across the US.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell had previously indicated that the senate would vote on Kavanaugh in the last week of September, but it is unclear whether this vote will go ahead given the seriousness of the allegations against him.