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The Latest: Hatch calls new Kavanaugh allegation ‘phony’

September 24, 2018

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

6 p.m.

A senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee says a new sexual misconduct allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is “phony.”

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah says he thinks Deborah Ramirez is “sincere” in her belief that Kavanaugh exposed himself at a party when they were in college. But Hatch adds, “I also think she’s sincerely wrong.”

Ramirez told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face and caused her to touch it without her consent. Kavanaugh denies the allegation, calling it “a smear, plain and simple.”

Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school. Kavanaugh says that allegation is false.

Hatch is asking why Democrats didn’t bring forward the allegations earlier, saying, “It’s strange how at the last minute all these accusations come up.”

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5:05 p.m.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says a “quiet, serious and thorough” FBI background check is the best way to resolve an increasingly ugly dispute over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Schumer says that if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans truly believe that allegations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh are part of “a smear campaign,” they should welcome an FBI investigation.

He says, “That’s the obvious way to go.”

Schumer says McConnell’s angry speech Monday attacking Democrats was filled with “wild, untethered allegations” that don’t reflect well on him or the Senate.

He says McConnell’s words show “someone who is in a pickle, someone who has dug a deep hole.” He’s calling McConnell’s vow to hold a quick vote on Kavanaugh “a rush job to avoid the truth.”

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4:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is standing by his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the face of sexual misconduct allegations from at least two women.

Trump told reporters Monday after signing a new trade agreement with South Korea at the United Nations General Assembly in New York that “we hope he is going to be confirmed.”

Trump adds, “It would be sad indeed if something happened to reroute that.”

Trump is also praising Kavanaugh as a “fine, fine man” and a “great scholar” who has been “great at everything he’s ever done.”

He says Kavanaugh’s family has suffered through the process, adding, “What’s going on is not something that should happen.”

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations and has denounced his accusers for launching “smears, pure and simple.”

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4:05 p.m.

A woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault says she is willing to meet one-on-one with senators to tell her story.

Christine Blasey Ford made the offer in a letter to Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ford is already set to testify Thursday to the Judiciary panel about her claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teens in the early 1980s. Kavanaugh denies the accusation.

In response to Ford’s letter, Grassley wrote that he is committed to giving her “fair and respectful treatment.” He did not address her offer for one-on-one meetings.

A few minutes after Ford’s letter was distributed to the media, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a floor speech accused Democrats of waging a “smear campaign” against Kavanaugh.

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4 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is sitting down for a televised interview with Fox News Channel as he fights for Senate confirmation.

Fox says host Martha MacCallum will be interviewing Kavanaugh along with his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh. The interview will air Monday evening.

The interview comes as Kavanaugh is facing sexual misconduct allegations from at least two women. Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the allegations and denounced his accusers for launching “smears, pure and simple.”

The interview will come days before he and one of his accusers are set to testify publicly about allegations that he sexually assaulted her at a party when they were teenagers.

Fox says the interview will address the allegations and the hearing as well as “the effect these claims have had on his family.”

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3:35 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will receive an up-or-down vote in the Senate “in the near future.”

McConnell on Monday angrily denounced Democrats, accusing them of waging a “smear campaign” against Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh is facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, including a report Sunday by The New Yorker magazine that dates to Kavanaugh’s time as an undergraduate at Yale University in the 1980s.

McConnell called the latest allegation “another orchestrated, last-minute hit on the nominee” by Democrats who oppose Kavanaugh’s conservative judicial philosophy.

McConnell says “Democrats won’t let a complete lack of evidence get between them and a good smear. It’s despicable.”

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3:30 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is condemning allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a “shameful, shameful smear campaign” created by Democrats.

Kavanaugh and his initial accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, will testify Thursday about her claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school. A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, has told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when he was in college. Kavanaugh denies both allegations.

In a fiery speech from the Senate floor on Monday, McConnell said Democrats are using the allegations to delay and obstruct and “destroy a man’s personal and professional life.” He says it’s an “orchestrated, last-minute hit on the nominee.”

Kavanaugh sent a defiant letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday vowing he will not withdraw his nomination.

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2:15 p.m.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh says he will “not be intimidated into withdrawing” his nomination for the Supreme Court after allegations of sexual misconduct.

Kavanaugh and his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, will testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, has told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her in college. Kavanaugh denies both allegations.

In a letter to the Judiciary panel, Kavanaugh says, “These are smears, pure and simple.” He calls the allegations “grotesque and obvious character assassination” and says they could dissuade others from entering public service.

Kavanaugh says threats of violence against his family and “the coordinated effort to destroy my good name” won’t drive him out.

Several Senate Republicans have called the allegations “smears” and urged a vote on Kavanaugh after Thursday’s hearing.

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1:15 p.m.

Prominent Senate Republicans are dismissing a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. They say the Senate should hear testimony from his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, and then immediately proceed to a vote on his nomination.

Ford is slated to testify Thursday about her claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school. A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, has told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when he was in college. Kavanaugh denies both allegations.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch says The New Yorker piece is a Democratic “smear campaign.” He says the Judiciary Committee should hear from Ford and “then we should vote.”

Two other Senate Republicans, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, are also urging a vote after the hearing with Ford.

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11:50 a.m.

Dozens of people protesting the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court have been arrested outside the office of Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

The protesters wore black “Be A Hero” shirts and sat outside Collins’ office chanting various slogans, including “we will not be silenced.” Members of the U.S. Capitol police arrested them one-by-one and led them away.

Protesters have targeted Collins because she is an undecided vote. If she and another Republican oppose Kavanaugh, his nomination could fail.

One of the protesters on hand was Marie Follayttar. She is co-director of a group that has raised money to give to Collins’ election opponent in 2020 if she supports Kavanaugh. Follayttar was not among those arrested.

Kavanaugh is set to testify Thursday at a hearing with Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses him of sexual assault. Kavanaugh denies the allegation.

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11:10 a.m.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says the furor surrounding sexual harassment claims against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is a “total collapse of the traditional confirmation process.”

Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, are scheduled to testify at a hearing Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Kavanaugh has denied her allegations that he assaulted her at a party when they were in high school. He’s also denied new accusations by a woman who says he exposed himself to her while they were students at Yale.

Graham, who is a member of the Judiciary committee, tweeted Monday that there are “no boundaries” when it comes to stopping President Donald Trump.

Graham called the accusations a “game of delay, deception, and wholesale character assassination.”

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton also criticized the accusations, saying Democrats “are engaged in a campaign of delay and character assassination against Judge Kavanaugh.” Cotton is not on the Judiciary panel.

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9:04 a.m.

President Donald Trump is pledging his support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying the sexual misconduct allegations against his choice are “totally political.”

Trump, at the United Nations in New York, declared that Kavanaugh is “outstanding,” and added, “I am with him all the way.”

He spoke as Kavanaugh’s nomination appeared in peril after The New Yorker published the account of a second woman who says he exposed himself to her while they were students at Yale. The woman said Kavanaugh forced her to come in contact with his penis while both were inebriated at a party.

The first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, has said Kavanaugh assaulted her in high school. She says he covered her mouth and tried to remove her clothing. Ford and Kavanaugh are expected to testify on Thursday.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

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8:05 a.m.

Kellyanne Conway says the country shouldn’t make Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh pay for “pent-up” demand by women incensed about sexual misconduct.

She said on CBS “This Morning” that the allegations against Kavanaugh, now by a second woman, sound like a “vast left-wing conspiracy.”

Conway said: “Are we going to put decades of pent-up demand for women to feel whole on one man’s shoulders?” She added that the second woman, who alleges that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at Yale, is welcome to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, is expected to do so on Thursday.

Kavanaugh denies both charges.

Conway said, “I don’t think one man’s shoulders should bear decades of the #MeToo movement” that has toppled powerful men across industries over the last year.

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8 a.m.

Writer Ronan Farrow is defending his article in the New Yorker in which a second woman accuses Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

The new accusation landed late Sunday hours after negotiators reached an agreement to hold a public hearing Thursday for Kavanaugh and his first accuser, California college professor Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford, who says he sexually assaulted her at a party decades ago.

The second claim against Kavanaugh dates to his first year at Yale University. Colorado resident Deborah Ramirez tells The New Yorker Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face at a party and caused her to touch it without her consent.

Kavanaugh denies the women’s allegations, calling Ramirez’s claim “a smear, plain and simple.”

Farrow told ABC on Monday there are “several people in this story who back Ms. Ramirez.”

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7:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump was told about the new sexual misconduct allegations about Brett Kavanaugh in the New Yorker hours before the explosive publication Sunday, according to a White House official.

Trump cast doubt on the veracity and the timing of the piece, believing it was further proof of what he has been saying privately: that the Democrats and media were conspiring to undermine his Supreme Court pick. That’s according to a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the office was not authorized to speak publicly.

The president showed no initial sign of wanting to walk away from Kavanaugh and expressed frustration that the confirmation process has not moved more quickly.

That reflected a growing sentiment in the West Wing: that delays in the process have allowed more time to produce additional politically motivated decades-old allegations intended to sully Kavanaugh’s reputation, the official said.

The White House remained firmly behind Kavanaugh Monday and planned an aggressive defense, said a White House official not authorized to speak publicly, who stressed the lack of corroborating evidence.

—By Jonathan Lemire and Catherine Lucey

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7:25 a.m.

Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway says sexual misconduct allegations by two women against Brett Kavanaugh sound like “a vast left-wing conspiracy.”

Conway noted Monday on CBS “This Morning” that Kavanaugh, in a statement Sunday, called the allegations a “smear campaign.” he added, “This is starting to feel like a vast left-wing conspiracy.”

Conway’s rhetoric echoes Hillary Clinton’s 1998 description of allegations that her husband, President Bill Clinton, had had affairs. She called them a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

Kavanaugh staunchly denies both accusations. He and Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh assaulted her while both were teens in the 1980s, are set to testify Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The New Yorker on Sunday published an accusation from a second woman, who said Kavanaugh exposed himself and forced her to touch his genitals while both were at Yale.

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2:35 a.m.

A second allegation of sexual misconduct has emerged against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a development that has further imperiled his nomination to the Supreme Court. It has also forced the White House and Senate Republicans onto the defensive and fueled calls from Democrats to postpone further action on his confirmation.

The new accusation landed late Sunday in a report from The New Yorker, just a few hours after negotiators had reached an agreement to hold an extraordinary public hearing Thursday for Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses him of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh denies the claim.

In the second claim, Deborah Ramirez told The New Yorker magazine that Kavanaugh exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party in the 1983-84 school year.

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