US President Donald Trump’s conservative Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, struck back Monday at an allegation that he committed sexual assault as a teenager, saying he was ready to defend his “integrity” before the Senate.
“I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone,” Kavanaugh said in a statement released by the White House in response to the accusation made by a California college professor.
“I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation from 36 years ago and defend my integrity.”
Kavanaugh’s defiance promised a major fight in the Republican-led Senate where his candidacy had appeared poised to sail through, giving Trump the opportunity to tilt the constitutional court to the right for years to come.
Shortly before Kavanaugh’s statement, the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, announced through her lawyer that she too was ready to testify before the committee.
Ford claims that at a party Kavanaugh — then a schoolboy — drunkenly lay on top of her, tried to pull off her bathing suit and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. She has reportedly backed up her allegation by passing a lie detector test and providing evidence that she previously talked about the incident, even if she never went to the authorities.
Trump’s top female aide said on Monday that Ford’s claims should be given a hearing.
“This woman should not be insulted and she should not be ignored,” said Kellyanne Conway.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is due to vote on the Kavanaugh nomination Thursday.
That would keep to a timetable in which the Republicans would see the judge safely confirmed before November midterm congressional elections in which Trump’s party risks losing control of the legislature.
A number of committee members have urged holding off on a vote following the bombshell allegation. However, Conway said any new testimony “should not unduly delay the vote.”