WASHINGTON, DC (RNN) – The Senate Judiciary Committee meets Thursday during a firestorm of sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh and calls from Senate Democrats for President Trump to withdraw his name from consideration.
In the high-stakes hearing, Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford will testify separately about her allegation of sexual assault. The hearing is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. ET.
Ford alleges a 17-year-old and drunken Kavanaugh pinned her down at a party during high school in the early 1980s and covered her mouth while trying to remove her clothing.
Kavanaugh, 53, has denied the allegation.
The hearing takes place as two more women have come forward to accuse the nominee of sexual misconduct. Neither one is scheduled to appear before the committee.
It also takes place after news broke that two anonymous people contacted Senate offices with more misconduct accusations against Kavanaugh.
Senate Republicans have hired Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to handle questioning about the allegations against Kavanaugh.
Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-IA, calls Mitchell “an experienced career sex-crimes prosecutor.” She works in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office as a deputy county attorney. Mitchell is also the chief of the special victims division.
Having a woman question Ford spares the 11 Republicans on the committee, all of them men, the visuals of them questioning a woman alleging sexual assault.
Kavanaugh’s opening statement was released Wednesday ahead of the hearing. He denied all allegations against him.
“There has been a frenzy to come up with something - anything, no matter how far-fetched or odious - that will block a vote on my nomination,” the statement said. “These are last-minute smears, pure and simple.”
Ford’s opening statement was also available ahead of the hearing.
“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified,” she said. “I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.” Ford goes on to detail her account of the alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh.
Their statements come on the heels of a third woman coming forward and accusing him of sexual misconduct.
In a sworn statement prepared by her attorney Michael Avenatti, Julie Swetnick said Kavanaugh and a friend of his, Mark Judge, were present at a party in the early ‘80s where she was drugged and then "gang raped."
She doesn’t accuse Kavanaugh of being her attacker, but alleges Kavanaugh engaged "in abusive and physically aggressive behavior towards girls, including pressing girls against him without their consent, ‘grinding’ against girls and attempting to remove or shift girls' clothing to expose private body parts.”
Swetnick’s allegations come days after another accuser, Deborah Ramirez, said in an interview with The New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were both students at Yale in the ‘80s.
News broke Wednesday evening that a fourth and fifth accusation was made against Kavanaugh.
Both accusations were anonymously made to Senate offices, one by a Colorado woman who said Kavanaugh “aggressively and sexually” pushed a woman against a wall while leaving a bar in 1998, the other by a Rhode Island man who said a close acquaintance “was sexually assaulted by two heavily inebriated men she referred to at the time as Brett and Mark" in August 1985.
Kavanaugh denied the accusations to Senate investigators.
Despite the flurry of accusations against his nominee, President Donald Trump said in a Wednesday press conference that he thinks the allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh are a “big, fat con job” and restated his support for him.
The developments appeared ready to generate the same sort of spectacle triggered when attorney Anita Hill came forward with harassment claims against Justice Clarence Thomas during his confirmation process in 1991.
The last Supreme Court nominee to withdraw was Harriet Miers, who was nominated by President George W. Bush in Oct. 2005 to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Miers was a corporate attorney who served as White House Counsel from 2005 to 2007.
Bipartisan opposition led Bush to withdraw the nomination.
Justice Anthony Kennedy retired from the high court earlier this year, making way for President Donald Trump to appoint a second justice. In 2017, Neil Gorsuch was appointed to replace Antonin Scalia.
Kavanaugh is a former clerk of Kennedy and has served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for the last 10 years.
A Bush appointee to his current position, Kavanaugh had worked as counsel and staff secretary in the White House before his nomination.
A graduate of Yale and Yale Law, he also was a member of Kenneth Starr's independent counsel team that investigated President Bill Clinton.