A California professor revealed herself Sunday as the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of an attempted sexual assault during their high school days, prompting calls from Democrats to delay pivotal votes on the nomination but with no indication from top Republicans that they would do so.
Christine Blasey Ford, in an interview with The Washington Post, said Judge Kavanaugh and a fellow Georgetown Preparatory School student “corralled her” into a bedroom at a party in a suburban home in Montgomery County, Maryland, in the early 1980s.
Ms. Ford accused Judge Kavanaugh, who last week said he never tried to assault anyone, of pinning her to a bed, groping and grinding on top of her, while attempting to take off her bathing suit. When she tried to scream, he put his hands over her mouth, she said.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ms. Ford told the newspaper. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Ms. Ford said the other student, identified as Mark Judge, then tried to climb on top of her, causing all three to spill over from the bed and giving her a chance to run from the room and eventually leave the house. Both teenage boys were extremely drunk, Ms. Ford told The Post.
Ms. Ford did not tell anyone else about the purported sexual assault until a therapy session in 2012. Both Judge Kavanaugh and Mr. Judge have denied the charges emphatically.
For days, Democrats pointed to an alleged assault, which Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, learned about in July but didn’t disclose until Thursday, in a bid to delay key votes on the nominee.
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After Ms. Ford revealed herself, Senate Democrats called on Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, to push back a Thursday vote on the nomination until the accusations could be investigated further.
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“To railroad a vote now would be an insult to the women of America and the integrity of the Supreme Court,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.
Yet Republicans showed little sign of slowing their push to seat Judge Kavanaugh by October, when the Supreme Court convenes.
I asked Sen. Flake whether he would vote no at this point in time. He would not say but emphasized that the allegation must be addressed further by the cmte. "It needs to be taken seriously," he told me. https://t.co/QR3VWd8Hpp
— Sean Sullivan (@WaPoSean) September 16, 2018
In a statement, Mr. Grassley’s staff questioned the timing of the revelations and noted that they were never provided, even privately and with the confidentiality for which Ms. Ford had asked, until word began leaking last week.
“Sixty-five senators met individually with Judge Kavanaugh during a nearly two-month period before the hearing began, yet Feinstein didn’t share this with her colleagues ahead of many of those discussions. It raises a lot of questions about Democrats’ tactics and motives to bring this to the rest of the committee’s attention only now rather than during these many steps along the way,” committee Republicans said.
They said previous background checks did not uncover the accusation. “Furthermore Judge Kavanaugh and others alleged to have been involved have unequivocally denied these claims from their high school days,” Mr. Grassley’s staff said.
However, at least two Republican members of the Judiciary Committee said the panel had to react to the news.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said he agreed with the committee’s statement but would be willing to hear from Ms. Ford directly, to compare her account against all other information the panel has collected on the judge.
“If the committee is to hear from Ms. Ford, it should be done immediately so the process can continue as scheduled,” Mr. Graham said Sunday afternoon.
Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, told Politico that he is “not comfortable” voting for Judge Kavanaugh without more information. On a panel on which Republicans hold only an 11-10 edge, that would prevent a favorable vote, though the party leadership still could bring the nomination to the floor.
“If they push forward without any attempt with hearing what she’s had to say, I’m not comfortable voting yes,” Mr. Flake said. “We need to hear from her. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.”
Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Mr. Grassley, said the chairman is “actively working” to set up a call with Ms. Ford and committee members ahead of Thursday’s vote. He told reporters that Mr. Grassley and Ms. Feinstein often hold such “bipartisan staff calls” when updates are made to a nominee’s background file.
That apparently won’t be enough for Ms. Feinstein.
“There’s a lot of information we don’t know, and the FBI should have the time it needs to investigate this new material. Staff calls aren’t the appropriate way to handle this,” she told Bloomberg News.
The Post story said Ms. Ford told her therapist about the alleged incident during couples therapy with her husband in 2012.
The therapist’s notes do not mention Judge Kavanaugh by name but say she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.” There are some discrepancies in the therapist’s notes and the interview with The Post, which Ms. Ford blamed on the therapist.
Ms. Ford told The Post that she said nothing at the time, not even apparently to her girlfriends, because she didn’t want her parents to know she had been at an underage drinking party.
Earlier Sunday, senators in both parties said they wished they had heard sooner about Ms. Ford, though the essential shape of her account, albeit without names and with few checkable details, was leaked late last week and prompted denials from Judge Kavanaugh.
Republicans suggested that Ms. Feinstein purposefully sat on the information because she didn’t say anything until confirmation votes were nigh.
“Nothing. Zero. Nada. Zilch,” Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, told “Fox News Sunday,” hours before The Post published its story. Ms. Feinstein “didn’t say anything in the confirmation hearing, she didn’t say anything in our confidential session with Judge Kavanaugh when the senators and the nominee met privately. And now, after it’s all over, she produces the letter.”
Sen. Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat who is not on the Judiciary panel but whose vote on the floor will be critical if multiple Republicans reject the nominee, said that while he sympathized with Ms. Feinstein’s predicament since the accuser did not want to be identified, Ms. Feinstein could have done more to alert other members.
“I think it should have been brought up, at least behind closed doors,” Mr. Jones told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “At the same time, it’s a very difficult situation when you’ve got allegations like this, very sensitive allegations.”
Later on Sunday, Mr. Jones said the Senate should regroup while investigations are done.
“This was a very brave step to come forward. It is more important than ever to hit the pause button on Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote until we can fully investigate these serious and disturbing allegations,” he tweeted. “We cannot rush to move forward under this cloud.
The White House’s only comment Sunday was the resend to The Post Judge Kavanaugh’s statement from last week that “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
Mr. Judge, the other teen boy Ms. Ford accused, had no comment Sunday but denied the early sketchy reports Friday.
“It’s just absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way,” Mr. Judge told The Weekly Standard.
At least one conservative judicial nominations group stood by Judge Kavanaugh on Sunday evening.
Judge Kavanaugh “has undergone half a dozen FBI background checks, and never a whisper of misconduct. Until the eve of his confirmation,” said Carrie Severino, policy director for the Judicial Crisis Network. “Furthermore, Sen. Feinstein apparently did not believe the allegations were serious, credible or relevant enough to share with the FBI or any other member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, even in the confidential background portion of the committee process. It doesn’t add up.”
Liberal activists are heaping enormous pressure on Republican Sens. Susan M. Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to oppose the nominee.
They are considered key swing votes in Mr. Trump’s push to replace retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, since Republicans hold a one-seat Senate majority and both women have pressed the nominee on his understanding of abortion rulings.
Ms. Collins spoke to Judge Kavanaugh for an hour on Friday but declined to divulge details of the conversation.
Ms. Ford’s decision to come forward will increase pressure on the Republican women and, quite likely, every other senator.
News reports said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, California Democrat, originally received the decades-old information concerning Judge Kavanaugh and turned it over to Ms. Feinstein.
Ms. Feinstein reportedly did nothing with it until fellow Democrats learned of it and demanded she brief them on it. She has since said she turned over the information to federal investigators, who concluded that they can’t look into the matter — attempted assault is not a federal crime, and state statutes of limitations would make prosecution impossible — and gave the information to the White House.
The White House questioned why the information was being raised after Judge Kavanaugh met with 65 senators, including Ms. Feinstein, and answered more than 2,000 questions in both public and confidential sessions.
Republicans who view Judge Kavanaugh as eminently qualified decried the eleventh-hour claim as the latest in a series of roadblocks that Democrats put in front of the nominee.
During confirmation hearings, Sen. Cory A. Booker of New Jersey compared himself to Spartacus in threatening to violate Senate rules while Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California was dinged by fact-checkers for presenting Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony on what Catholic priests believe about contraception as if it were the judge’s own thoughts.
“So far, it’s pretty much been an intergalactic freak show,” Mr. Kennedy said.
Democrats, who still accuse Republicans of stealing a court pick from President Obama after Justice Antonin Scalia died, said even before the Ford claims that they had ample reason to oppose Judge Kavanaugh.
Ms. Feinstein highlighted Judge Kavanaugh’s record on abortion, guns, civil rights and corporations in announcing her formal opposition to his nomination in a Sunday op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.
“Supreme Court justices should not be an extension of the Republican Party,” she wrote. “They must also have unquestionable character and integrity, and serious questions remain about Judge Kavanaugh in this regard, as indicated in information I referred to the FBI.”
Ms. Feinstein, a senator since 1992, is up for re-election in November. Her opponent, California state Sen. Kevin de Leon, said it was right to protect the unidentified Kavanaugh accuser but maintained that Ms. Feinstein should have gone public with the accusation earlier.
“The American people deserve to know why the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee waited nearly three months to hand this disqualifying document over to the federal authorities, and why Sen. Feinstein politely pantomimed her way through last week’s hearing without a single question about the content of Kavanaugh’s character,” said Mr. de Leon, a Democrat running to Ms. Feinstein’s left.
“What we have here,” he said, “is a failure of leadership.”
• Stephen Dinan, Victor Morton and Alex Swoyer contributed to this report.
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