Brett Kavanaugh, the Accusations and the Fallout: Catch Up on the News

Since his nomination to the Supreme Court by President Trump in July, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh has been a leading figure in the news.

At first, he faced intense scrutiny over his qualifications, his work in President George W. Bush’s administration and his politics. But the focus has shifted in recent weeks, as three women publicly accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual assault or misconduct.

Judge Kavanaugh, who has denied the accusations, and the first woman to come forward with one, Christine Blasey Ford, are expected to testify on Thursday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Follow our live updates during the hearing.

At a news conference on Wednesday evening, Mr. Trump contended that the accusations against Judge Kavanaugh “are all false,” but also said he “can always be convinced” after watching Dr. Blasey’s testimony on Thursday.

Here’s a guide to the latest coverage from The Times.


Three women have come forward by name so far with allegations about Judge Kavanaugh, and two anonymous accusations, one of which was later recanted, surfaced on Wednesday. .

First, Dr. Blasey, a research psychologist, accused him of pinning her down at a high school party, trying to take off her clothing and covering her mouth to keep her from screaming. (Read our profile of her.)

On Sunday, The New Yorker reported that Deborah Ramirez, who works for the Boulder County housing department in Colorado and sits on the board of a domestic violence organization, said that Judge Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drunken college party. (Here’s our profile of her.)

On Wednesday, Julie Swetnick, who has held a variety of public- and private-sector jobs over the years, including working for federal government agencies, said that he was “present” when she was raped at a high school party.

In an anonymous letter sent to a Republican senator, a woman said her daughter witnessed Judge Kavanaugh drunkenly push her friend, a woman he was dating, up against a wall after they left a Washington bar one night in 1998.

Although he admitted on Wednesday to having some regrets about his choices in high school, Judge Kavanaugh has adamantly denied the allegations. He again denied all of the allegations on Wednesday night, in his third call with staff lawyers for the Judiciary Committee who have prepared him for the hearing.

Rumors have also started circulating about the accusers’ allegations. We debunk five viral ones.

[Make sense of the people, issues and ideas shaping the 2018 elections with our new politics newsletter. Here’s our latest one on Wednesday’s news.]


For good reason, too. In battleground districts, voters are deeply divided on his nomination.

On Sept. 14, a group of 65 women signed a letter in support of Judge Kavanuagh’s nomination. Recently, one of those women, Renate Schroeder Dolphin, learned Judge Kavanaugh had listed the phrase “Renate Alumnius” on his high school yearbook page.

Two of his classmates said that the references to “Renate” reflected unsubstantiated boasting by the school’s football players about their conquests. Judge Kavanaugh’s lawyer said the language referred to his client and Ms. Dolphin’s attending a high school event together “and nothing else.” For her part, Ms. Dolphin said, “I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue.”

As Judge Kavanaugh’s high school and college years have come under scrutiny, a common theme has emerged with respect to the accusations: heavy drinking.

Meanwhile, a group of Mormon women called for a pause in the confirmation process, pressuring the four Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (its adherents lean heavily Republican).

The sensitivity of the situation, particularly in the #MeToo era, is not lost on the 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, all of them white men. They have retained a female prosecutor to help question one of the accusers, Dr. Blasey, at a Thursday hearing. Here’s what we know about that prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell.

The allegations have also activated liberals, who held rallies and participated in walkouts on Monday and are planning another day of action on Thursday. Survivors of abuse have also rallied around a new hashtag, #WhyIDidntReport, to highlight the difficulties, fear, anger and shame that so often surround sexual harassment and assault.

“With reference to Dr. Ford, the credibility is there for her. So I believe her,” said Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, who has emerged as a leading Democratic defender of the women who have accused Judge Kavanaugh. (She is a member of the Judiciary Committee.) “I don’t think either one of these women have any reason to lie,” she said before the third woman had come forward.

The political stakes are very high, with some Democrats hoping that the derailment of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation could buy them time to win back the Senate in the November midterm elections, and, consequently, gain control over the confirmation of Mr. Trump’s next nominee.


In preparation for Thursday’s testimony, both Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh have released their opening statements. You can read Dr. Blasey’s statement here, and Judge Kavanaugh’s statement here.

Many have seen parallels between the accusations facing Judge Kavanaugh today and the ones from Anita Hill, who accused Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual misconduct during his Supreme Court confirmation process more than a quarter-century ago. Read more about her testimony and key moments from Judge Thomas’s hearings, and listen to an episode from The Daily that revisits it. Ms. Hill, now a professor at Brandeis University, has weighed in herself, writing in a New York Times Op-Ed that, this time around, the Senate Judiciary Committee can “do better.’

Advisers have said that Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh face different challenges on Thursday. For Dr. Blasey, an unknown figure, details will matter. For Judge Kavanaugh, he must defend himself, but not attack his accuser.

Melissa Gomez and Matthew Haag contributed reporting.

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