A third woman has publicly accused Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, of sexual misconduct, claiming he was present at parties as a teenager where girls were “gang raped”.
Julie Swetnick, a former US government employee, alleged that Mr Kavanaugh and his friends attempted to “spike” drinks so women would be too inebriated to say “no” in the early 1980s.
She also claimed to have seen Mr Kavanaugh in a line of boys outside a room at one of these parties “waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room”.
Mr Kavanaugh denied the allegations, saying: “This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened.”
The new claims plunged his confirmation into further uncertainty, triggering leading Democrats to demand the US president withdraw Mr Kavanaugh as his nominee for the open Supreme Court seat.
However Mr Trump dismissed the latest allegations, calling them a “disgrace” and a “con”.
Mr Trump expressed hope that Mr Kavanaugh will be confirmed “over the next couple of days" and predicted he would eventually become one of the "greatest ever" Supreme Court judges.
Mr Kavanaugh and the first woman to accuse him of sexual misconduct, Christine Blasey Ford, will on Thursday testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which vets nominees.
Millions of Americans are expected to tune in during the live broadcast at 8am Washington time, with the whole row seen as a critical test for how US society deals with such allegations in the wake of the ‘MeToo’ movement.
Avenatti is a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations, like he did on me and like he is now doing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh. He is just looking for attention and doesn’t want people to look at his past record and relationships – a total low-life!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2018
The Republican leadership insisted on Wednesday it would push ahead with a scheduled vote from committee members on Friday morning on Mr Kavanaugh’s nomination.
The result hangs in the balance with Jeff Flake, a Republican senator who frequently criticises Mr Trump, seen as the key swing vote. Yesterday he repeated criticism for how the process had been handled.
A full vote of the Senate, which the Republicans hold by 51 seats to 49, would then be needed. Republicans want to fill the Supreme Court vacancy before the November midterm elections, when they could lose their majority.
Mr Kavanaugh appeared to be cruising to confirmation until three allegations of sexual misconduct emerged in the last fortnight.
Mrs Ford, the first woman to go public, claimed he had pinned her on a bed and groped her while drunk at a house party in 1982.
Mr Kavanaugh “completely” denied the claim and on Wednesday produced his calendar from that time in an attempt to disprove the allegation.
A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, then claimed that Mr Kavanaugh had thrust his genitals in her face during a party at Yale University in the early 1980s. He denied the claims and said the event “did not happen”.
Ms Swetnick, the third accuser, made her claims through Michael Avenatti, her lawyer, who shot to fame by representing Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claimed an affair with Mr Trump.
Mr Avenatti on Thursday morning tweeted a 14-point statement apparently signed by Ms Swetnick, who worked in government and had some security clearance, which outlined her background and allegations.
Ms Swetnick claimed that she first met Mr Kavanaugh and Mark Judge, his high-school friend, in the early 1980s and attended “well over” 10 house parties with both around the Washington DC area.
Ms Swetnick alleged: “On numerous occasions at these parties, I witnessed Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh drink excessively and engage in highly inappropriate conduct, including being overly aggressive with girls and not taking ‘No’ for an answer.”
She alleged that Mr Kavanaugh would “engage in abusive and physically aggressive behaviour toward girls", including "pressing girls against him without consent, ‘grinding’ against girls, and attempting to remove or shift girls’ clothing to expose private body parts".
Ms Swetnick claimed that Mr Kavanaugh, Mr Judge and others made efforts “to ‘spike’ the ‘punch’ at house parties I attended with drugs and/or grain alcohol so as to cause girls to lose their inhibitions and their ability to say ‘No.’”
“I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room. These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh.”
Ms Swetnick also alleged she was raped in around 1982 “where Mark Judge and Brett Kavnaugh were present,” saying she believes she was drugged with Quaaludes or a similar substance.. There is no suggestion that either of the men is accused of committing the sexual assault.
Mr Kavanaugh said in testimony to senators which emerged on Wednesday: “I have never sexually assaulted anyone – not in high school, not in college, not ever."
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