President Donald Trump called on his Justice Department Sunday to “rescue” Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after The New York Times published an excerpt of a new book detailing sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh that he has previously denied.
The excerpt from “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation,” written by Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, revisits an allegation raised during the Supreme Court justice’s confirmation process in 2018. That allegation from Deborah Ramirez accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her at a party when he was a freshman at Yale, according to an account published in The New Yorker. Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the allegation.
The book revisits Ramirez’s claim and contains a former male classmate’s new allegation which the authors say was corroborated by two sources. The authors reported the former classmate came forward to the FBI and senators concerning an incident he witnessed and said the FBI did not investigate the incident.
The New York Times Sunday evening published an Editor’s Note saying the female victim declined to be interviewed and friends say she does not recall the incident.
A person close to Kavanaugh told CNN the accusation isn’t new because, according to the book’s authors, it had previously been reported to the FBI and some on Capitol Hill. This person said, citing the new book, that some Democratic senators, despite having been told of the allegations before Kavanaugh was confirmed, did not act.
CNN is not reporting any details related to the allegation because CNN has not independently verified it.
Trump tweeted Sunday that Kavanaugh “should start suing people for libel, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue.” (The President initially misspelled the word “libel” before deleting the tweet and correcting the word in a subsequent tweet.)
In nominating Kavanaugh, Trump seized a rare opportunity to solidify a conservative majority for a generation on the Supreme Court. The President and those who worked to get him on the bench are now waiting to see if their calculation was correct, and for a sense of how far and how fast the conservative majority will move.
A Supreme Court spokeswoman said Kavanuagh had no comment on the new allegation against the justice or the calls for impeachment.
The President’s pick for the Supreme Court faced allegations of sexual misconduct that threatened to derail his confirmation in 2018.
Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor and the first accuser to come forward, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were both teenagers. He has also denied that allegation.
Trump at the time sought to discredit Ford and Ramirez, and said Kavanaugh was “under assault.” He mocked and imitated Ford at a campaign rally, and accused Democrats of masterminding “a con game” against his Supreme Court nominee.
Conservatives throughout the controversy largely stood by Kavanaugh, who was confirmed in October to take former Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat after the vicious approval battle and a 50-48 Senate vote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted Sunday he looks forward “to many years of service to come from Justice Kavanaugh.”
“Fortunately a majority of Senators and the American people rallied behind timeless principles such as due process and the presumption of innocence,” McConnell wrote.
2020 Democrats respond
Several Democratic presidential candidates were quick to weigh in Sunday, with some calling for Kavanaugh’s impeachment from the high court.
California Sen. Kamala Harris, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted Kavanaugh should be impeached.
“I sat through those hearings. Brett Kavanaugh lied to the U.S. Senate and most importantly to the American people,” Harris wrote. “He was put on the Court through a sham process and his place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice.”
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro also called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment and for an investigation into the latest allegation. “Congress should review the failure of the Department of Justice to properly investigate the matter,” Castro said.
In a separate tweet, Castro fired back at Trump’s Sunday Kavanaugh comments. “The Department of Justice isn’t your law firm, or Brett Kavanaugh’s. Even if (Attorney General) Bill Barr acts like your lawyer,” Castro said in reference to Trump’s tweet defending the Supreme Court justice.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, also a member of the Judiciary Committee, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday she strongly opposed Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and accused Barr of “shielding documents” related to the allegations against Kavanaugh.
“I strongly opposed him, based on his views on executive power, which will continue to haunt our country, as well as how he behaved, including the allegations that we are hearing more about today,” Klobuchar told ABC.
Klobuchar said the “process was a sham” and added, “I don’t think that you can look at impeachment hearings without getting the documents — the House would have to get the documents — and the Attorney General is shielding documents.” She said all of the relevant information needs to come forward before considering an impeachment process against Kavanaugh.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren called the new revelations “disturbing,” saying on Twitter, “Like the man who appointed him, Kavanaugh should be impeached.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote on Twitter, “The revelations today confirm what we already knew: During his hearing, Kavanaugh faced credible accusations and likely lied to Congress. I support any appropriate constitutional mechanism to hold him accountable.”
Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke tweeted, “Yesterday, we learned of another accusation against Brett Kavanaugh — one we didn’t find out about before he was confirmed because the Senate forced the F.B.I. to rush its investigation to save his nomination. We know he lied under oath. He should be impeached.”
South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg called on Kavanaugh to resign and said, “if he doesn’t, the House should impeach him.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden did not call for Kavanaugh’s impeachment Sunday, saying “We must follow the evidence to wherever it leads.”
“Doing this the right way is critically important in getting the truth and restoring the American people’s faith in their government,” Biden added. “The women who continue to come forward, as Dr. Blasey Ford courageously did, deserve to be treated with dignity and be listened to. It takes enormous courage for a woman to come forward, under the bright lights of millions of people watching, and relive a traumatic memory.”
This story has been updated to include a Times editor’s note that states the victim in the previously unreported allegations declined to be interviewed and friends say she doesn’t recall the incident.