Democrats are questioning the truthfulness of Brett Kavanaugh‘s sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee as the FBI continues its investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Donald Trump's candidate for the Supreme Court.
The bureau has been given approval by the White House to speak to anyone it feels it needs to as part of its probe into the nominee’s past, following criticism its initial scope was too limited. The investigation, delaying Mr Kavanaugh’s confirmation, was instigated following Dr Christine Blasey Ford's Senate appearance to accuse the judge of sexually assaulting her at a college party in the 1980s.
Mr Kavanaugh has categorically denied any sexual misconduct ever occurred.
Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democrats’ leader from New York, has meanwhile said Mr Kavanaugh “misled senators about everything from the momentous to the mundane” to ensure his ascension to the high court.
Mr Trump, speaking to reporters on Tuesday, suggested that the Kavanaugh accusations show it is "a very scary time for young men in America," and claimed that men in America are now "guilty until proven innocent" — a standard he claimed was a dangerous precedent to set in the United States.
The president also praised his nominee's performance during his hearing on Thursday, when he defended himself against the accusations from Dr Ford. She had testified earlier on Thursday.
"I thought h did very well. He's fighting very hard for his reputation for his family," Mr Trump said on Tuesday. "I thought what happened was really tough. It was tough stuff".
Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been an outspoken supporter of Mr Kavanaugh's nomination, doubled down on his support as well, suggesting that the president should simply renominate Mr Kavanaugh if the Senate fails to confirm him.
"If his nomination were to fall short, I would encourage President Trump to re-nominate Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court," Mr Graham said in a statement released on Tuesday. "It would — in effect — be appealing the Senate's verdict directly to the American people".
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested that he plans on bringing Mr Kavanaugh's nomination up for a vote in the Senate some time this week.
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Hello and welcome to The Independent's coverage of Brett Kavanaugh's protracted Supreme Court nomination process.
Follow along here as the FBI continues its investigation into sexual assault allegations against President Trump's nominee for a lifetime appointment to the country's highest court.
In the latest developments in the case following last week's dramatic committee hearings, Donald Trump has insisted he would be happy for the FBI to speak to all three of Mr Kavanaugh's accusers.
“It would not bother me at all. I don’t know the third accuser. I’m sure they’re going to interview two of them,” the president said, referring to Julie Swetnick.
“The third, I don’t know much about, but it would not bother me at all. I have heard that the third accuser – I don’t know this to be true – has very little credibility. If there is any credibility, interview the third one.”
Meanwhile, former FBI director James Comey has warned that the White House's initial attempt to limit the probe, now abandoned, was "deeply flawed and designed to thwart the fact-gathering process".
Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democrats' leader from New York, has accused Kavanaugh of delivering a "partisan screed" during the Judiciary Committee hearing last week. He said Kavanaugh seemed willing to "mislead senators about everything from the momentous to the mundane" to ensure his ascension to the high court.
"The harsh fact of the matter is that we have mounting evidence that Judge Kavanaugh is just not credible," Mr Schumer said on Monday.
As Tuesday morning rolls over Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans are continuing to exchange harsh words over the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, as an FBI probe is now reportedly allowed to go on without obstruction from the White House.
Here’s the latest on where the embattled Supreme Court nominee’s fate stands, via the AP:
Kavanaugh's confirmation hinges on a handful of key Republican and Democratic senators who have not yet fully tipped their votes. One of them is Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona, who was greeted by hundreds of liberal protesters, victims of sexual assault among them, during an appearance Monday in Boston.
Flake and Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were instrumental last week in holding up Kavanaugh's confirmation vote. They forced the White House to open a supplemental background investigation of sexual misconduct allegations against the judge.
The votes of the three Republicans and those of red-state Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota will largely determine whether Kavanaugh is confirmed.
Flake said he would ensure it's a "real investigation," by the FBI as Democrats demanded that Trump give them a full readout of his instructions to the agency.
"It does us no good to have an investigation that just gives us more cover," Flake said.
Heitkamp, meanwhile, noted that Trump himself called for a "broader" FBI investigation into the allegations. She said, "I'm waiting to see what the results are."
Kavanaugh has emphatically denied Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that he sexually assaulted her at a gathering when they were teens. He has also denied an accusation from Deborah Ramirez, a classmate at Yale, who said he exposed himself to her at a dorm party more than 25 years ago. A third claim — from Julia Swetnick, who is represented by attorney Michael Avenatti — accuses Kavanaugh of excessive drinking and inappropriate treatment of women at parties in the early 1980s. Kavanaugh denies that as well.
Democrats have seized most recently on Kavanaugh's indignant, emotional testimony before the Judiciary Committee to question whether he has the temperament for a lifetime appointment on the nation's highest court.
In particular, Democrats have homed in on his contention that the allegations against him are an "orchestrated political hit" funded by left-wing groups seeking "revenge on behalf of the Clintons."
Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, said, "We're going to put a conspiracy theory believer on the court?"
Democrats are also questioning Kavanaugh's honesty, particularly over statements he made about his drinking in high school and college.
Brett Kavanaugh won’t be returning to teach at Harvard Law School in January, after the school’s Undergraduate Council demanded the university investigate sexual assault allegations against the Supreme Court nominee before allowing him to return, The Crimson reported.
In an email sent by Associate Dean and Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs Catherine Claypoole, the Law School’s Curriculum Committee stated, “Today, Judge Kavanaugh indicated that he can no longer commit to teaching his course in January Term 2019, so the course will not be offered.”
The move arrived after hundreds of Harvard Law School alumni signed a letter demanding the school “rescind” Mr Kavanaugh’s position.
“We believe that Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment as an HLS lecturer sends a message to law students, and in particular female students, that powerful men are above the law, and that obstructive, inappropriate behavior will be rewarded,” the letter states. “Judge Kavanaugh is not leadership material, and he is not lectureship material. HLS would be tarnished to have him on campus in any position of authority.”
Democrats and Republicans aren’t the only ones exchanging harsh words over last week’s hearings.
Matthew Long, a former sex crimes prosecutor who was trained by Rachel Mitchell — the Republican prosecutor the majority hired to question both Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh — wrote a “disingenuous” memo after the fact that was inconsistent with her own practices as a prosecutor, the associate told Mother Jones.
“I’m very disappointed in my former boss and mentor,” Mr Long said.
Democratic senator Mazie Hirono has spoken out about new reports indicating Brett Kavanaugh was questioned by police in 1985 after throwing ice at someone “for some unknown reason” at a bar, according to a police report from the time.
“This is why we need an FBI investigation,” the senator told CNN. “Because there are a lot of allegations and the reports really are about how he behaves when he is drunk.”
New reports are spotting potentially troubling issues with Brett Kavanaugh’s candor during last week’s hearings over sexual assault allegations against him.
Though the embattled nominee claimed to only have learned of the second accuser alleging misconduct against him after a story was published in the New Yorker, NBC's First Read reported Tuesday that text messages “suggest that the nominee was personally talking with former classmates about [the accuser’s] story in advance of the New Yorker article that made her allegation public.”
“In one message, Yarasavage said Kavanaugh asked her to go on the record in his defence,” the article continues. “Two other messages show communication between Kavanaugh’s team and former classmates in advance of the story.”
The latest on Rachel Mitchell’s memo from the Washington Post:
“Legal experts from both political parties and advocates for victims of sexual assault questioned how Rachel Mitchell” could write in her memo after last week’s hearings that no case could be brought against Brett Kavanaugh while lacking a fuller investigation that would include other witnesses like Mark Judge.
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