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The Latest: GOP hires female attorney for Kavanaugh hearing

September 25, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh (all times local):

12:20 p.m.

Republicans have hired a female attorney to handle questioning during this week’s hearing with Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The attorney’s name has not been released. The hire was confirmed by a GOP aide to the Senate Judiciary Committee who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Ford’s lawyers have objected to Republicans hiring someone they call an “experienced sex crimes prosecutor.” They say the move is inconsistent with the GOP pledge to avoid a “circus.”

Attorney Michael R. Bromwich asked Republicans for the name of the attorney and the opportunity to meet with her before Thursday’s hearing.

Republicans want a woman to conduct their questioning of Ford, who accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teens. Kavanaugh denies the allegation.

All 11 Republicans on the Senate panel are men.

—Lisa Mascaro

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12: 15 p.m.

The attorney for the second woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct says she wants an FBI investigation.

Attorney John Clune tweeted that he is in contact with the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said: “We remain adamant that an FBI investigation, where all witnesses are questioned under threat of perjury, is the only way to get the truth.”

Clune said his client, Deborah Ramirez, stands by her account of drunken wrongdoing by Kavanaugh that she told to The New Yorker. The account was published Sunday.

Ramirez alleges that while in his first year at Yale University, Kavanaugh put his genitals in her face after a drinking game. Kavanaugh denies the accusation.

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12:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says Democrats are playing a “con game” against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump is seeking to cast doubt on sexual misconduct allegations lodged against Kavanaugh by a Yale classmate, Deborah Ramirez, who made her claims in an article published in The New Yorker magazine.

Trump says Ramirez says it might not have been Kavanaugh and there were gaps in her memory. He says she says “she was totally inebriated and all messed up.”

Trump says: “This is a con game being played by the Democrats.”

Kavanaugh is set to testify Thursday at a public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, is also expected to testify.

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11:18 a.m.

A key Republican senator is indicating she believes there should be a new FBI investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after allegations of sexual misconduct.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is one of a handful of Senate Republicans undecided on Kavanaugh’s confirmation. When asked Tuesday if there should be a full FBI investigation about the claims, she said: “Well, it would sure clear up all the questions, wouldn’t it?”

President Donald Trump and most Senate Republicans have said an FBI investigation isn’t needed. Kavanaugh and his initial accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, will testify Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ford says he sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers.

A second woman told the New Yorker magazine that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her in college. Kavanaugh denies both claims.

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11 a.m.

The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell owes Christine Blasey Ford an apology for calling her allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh a smear job.

Schumer says “he should apologize to her immediately.”

Two women have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct decades ago. He has denied sexually assaulting anyone.

Schumer, the minority leader, also says it is galling that McConnell is making charges of partisanship by Democrats. He says McConnell has done more than maybe anyone else to politicize the Supreme Court nomination process.

Schumer says that if McConnell truly believed the allegations were a partisan attack, he would join Democrats in calling for a background investigation.

Schumer says “I think they’re afraid of the facts.”

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10:35 a.m.

The Senate’s top Republican says unconfirmed, decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct by Brett Kavanaugh are no reason to block his Supreme Court nomination.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says such charges are “nowhere near” a reason to “nullify someone’s career.” He says in the United States, accused people are supposed to be treated with fairness and a presumption of innocence.

McConnell’s emphasis on fairness comes as Republican leaders have ramped up efforts to solidify support for Kavanaugh among GOP senators.

Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of molesting her during an early 1980s high school party. Deborah Ramirez has said Kavanaugh forced her to touch his penis during a Yale dormitory party when both were freshmen. Kavanaugh has denied both allegations.

McConnell says the Senate will vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation soon.

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7:25 a.m.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says “we would be open” to Deborah Ramirez, a second woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, testify before the Senate Judiciary panel this week.

Sanders says that “process could take place on Thursday,” when Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has separately accused him of assaulting her in high school, are scheduled to testify.

She says President Donald Trump “has said a number of times these individuals should be heard.” At the same time, she noted that Kavanaugh has been “unequivocal in his denial” of sexual assault allegations. She adds, “This is a country where you’re innocent until proven guilty except when you’re a conservative Republican.”

Republicans have accused Democrats of a smear campaign by using the women’s accusations of misconduct by Kavanaugh in high school and college to try to defeat his nomination.

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12:40 a.m.

Brett Kavanaugh says he won’t let “false accusations” drive him from his quest to win Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court. That’s part of an aggressive drive by President Donald Trump and top Republicans to rally the public and GOP senators behind Kavanaugh’s teetering nomination.

Trump and Republican leaders are accusing Democrats of a smear campaign by using accusations by two women of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh in the 1980s to try scuttling his Senate confirmation.

There were no immediate indications that the emergence of a second accuser had fatally wounded Kavanaugh’s prospects. But Republicans tried projecting unflinching support for Kavanaugh that included the nominee taking the unusual step of defending himself in a television interview.

Kavanaugh said Monday on Fox News Channel, “I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone.”

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