Senators set a showdown hearing Thursday to hear testimony from Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and the woman who has accused him of an attempted sexual assault, even as her story looks shaky.
Three people whom Christine Blasey Ford has identified as witnesses at the high school party where she said the incident happened deny knowing anything about it.
This weekend, the attorney for Leland Keyser, named by Ms. Blasey Ford as a friend who could verify parts of her accusation, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she has no recollection of the party and doesn’t know Judge Kavanaugh.
Senate Democrats, emboldened by a report that a second woman has accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his teenage years, renewed calls for an FBI investigation. The top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, called for a hold on the nomination process in light of the latest allegation.
“I also ask that the newest allegations of sexual misconduct be referred to the FBI for investigation, and that you join our request for the White House to direct the FBI to investigate the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford as well as these new claims,” Ms. Feinstein said in a letter Sunday to Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican.
The New Yorker reported late Sunday that 53-year-old Deborah Ramirez told the magazine that Judge Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a drunken dormitory party in the 1983-84 academic year, his freshman year at Yale University.
In a statement provided by the White House, Judge Kavanaugh denied that the event ever happened.
Also on Sunday, the lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claims she had an affair with the president more than a decade ago, said he has another client with information against the Supreme Court nominee.
“We will be demanding the opportunity to present testimony to the committee,” Michael Avenatti tweeted Sunday. “The nomination must be withdrawn.”
Democrats are looking to delay the confirmation and want to heap pressure on the president. After days of saying Ms. Blasey Ford should be given a chance to speak, Mr. Trump declared Friday that it was time to get on with the confirmation process.
Mr. Trump and fellow Republicans say the FBI doesn’t investigate cases where there is no federal crime and no national security implications. They wonder why Ms. Blasey Ford declined to ask for an investigation by local police, who as of last week, said they had not heard from Ms. Blasey Ford.
Before the latest allegations surfaced Sunday night, Republicans were increasingly confident in Judge Kavanaugh, who has vehemently denied Ms. Blasey Ford’s allegations since they became public so late in the confirmation process.
Democrats withheld the allegation until well after Judge Kavanaugh’s week of hearings and went public just before the first scheduled committee vote.
That vote was put off, and lawmakers and Ms. Blasey Ford spent a week arguing over whether and how she would testify.
On Sunday, all sides struck a deal to bring Judge Kavanaugh, along with Ms. Blasey Ford, back for another day of testimony. That is a concession to her demands.
She will testify first, in public. Judge Kavanaugh will appear after she has finished.
Ms. Blasey Ford’s allegations remain unclear. She made them in a letter sent to congressional Democrats that has not been made fully public, and she described to The Washington Post what she says happened at a house party in suburban Maryland more than 35 years ago.
She says Judge Kavanaugh, then a 17-year-old student, attempted to force himself on her and tried to strip off her clothes and stifle her cries for help. She says a Kavanaugh friend, Mark Judge, was in the room, and at least two other people were at the party.
Judiciary Committee investigators have reached out to each of those people, and none has backed up Ms. Blasey Ford’s account.
Mr. Judge provided a statement through his attorney saying he didn’t recall the party and “never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes.” Patrick J. Smyth provided a similar statement.
On Saturday Ms. Keyser, through her attorney, said she “does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford.”
The committee also reached out to Christina King Miranda, a former classmate of Ms. Blasey Ford’s, who said online last week that many people at their school heard about the incident. She has since told National Public Radio that she did not know whether such an incident happened and has said she did not want to talk to Judiciary Committee investigators.
Judge Kavanaugh also was interviewed by committee investigators and denied all of the allegations. Ms. Blasey Ford has declined to be interviewed by investigators. She has, however, demanded that the committee subpoena Mr. Judge and force him to testify under oath — a call Democrats share.
Republicans have said they won’t subpoena anyone and only Judge Kavanaugh and Ms. Blasey Ford will testify. That left Democrats to complain that Ms. Blasey Ford wasn’t being given a fair chance to prove her case.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said he will listen to Ms. Blasey Ford’s testimony, but he stressed her claim would never move forward in criminal or civil court because it lacks specifics and dates back decades.
“What am I supposed to do … ruin this guy’s life based on an accusation? I don’t know when it happened, I don’t know where it happened and everybody named in regard to being there said it didn’t happen,” Mr. Graham told Fox News. “Unless there’s something more, no, I’m not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh’s life over this.”