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Brett Kavanaugh denies sexual misconduct allegation

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Friday denied an allegation of sexual misconduct, a day after Senate Democrats said they had referred the incident to the FBI.

"I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation,” Kavanaugh said in a statement provided by the White House, his first comments on the allegations. “I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

A letter, which reportedly details an incident between Kavanaugh and an unknown woman when they were in high school, has consumed talk of his Supreme Court nomination since reports of its existence surfaced on Wednesday.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee,  repeatedly declined to discuss the contents of the letter with reporters this week. Instead, she released a statement on Thursday saying she had referred the matter to the FBI.

The New Yorker on Friday reported new details of the letter, which has not been released publicly.

The woman in the letter said that at a party in the early 1980s Kavanaugh "held her down and that he attempted to force himself on her," according to The New Yorker.

The publication reported that the letter says Kavanaugh and a friend turned up music in a room to try to conceal her protests and that Kavanaugh also covered her mouth. The woman, according to The New Yorker, was able to free herself but later sought psychological treatment.

Spokespeople for Feinstein and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, didn't immediately responded to a request for comment about The New Yorker report.

The New York Times subsequently reported more details of the alleged incident on Friday, citing three people familiar with the letter, including one source who reportedly had read it.

During the alleged incident, Kavanaugh and a friend took the woman — then a teenager — into a bedroom, where the door was locked and she was thrown onto the bed. Kavanaugh then got on top of her and put a hand over her mouth, according to the Times.

The New Yorker and The New York Times both said that all three individuals involved in the alleged incident were minors at the time.

Republicans and the White House have dismissed the letter as an 11th-hour attempt by Democrats to try to derail Kavanaugh's nomination.

Grassley's office sent out a letter on Friday morning from 65 women who knew Kavanaugh when he was in high school. The letter was made public shortly after The New Yorker article was published.

"We are women who have known Brett Kavanaugh for more than 35 years and knew him while he attended high school between 1979 and 1983,” the letter states. “For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect.”

"We strongly believe it is important to convey this information to the Committee at this time," they added.

Grassley's office later said that Thursday's committee vote on Kavanaugh's nomination would continue as previously scheduled.

They added that Kavanaugh has undergone six FBI investigations since 1993 and "no such allegation resembling the anonymous claims" was included in the FBI reports, and that, separately, no similar allegations have been brought to Republican members of the Judiciary Committee or staff.

The allegation was also not brought up during a closed-door session last week with Kavanaugh and members of the committee, according to Grassley's staff. They added that Grassley and his staff learned about the letter's "mere existence" on Wednesday evening from news reports and had "no prior knowledge" about the allegation it contains.
The FBI confirmed on Thursday that it had received the letter from Democrats.

“Upon receipt of the information on the night of September 12, we included it as part of Judge Kavanaugh’s background file, as per the standard process,” an FBI spokesperson told The Hill.

The information was then given to the White House and the Senate Judiciary Committee as an update to Kavanaugh's background file.

A government official confirmed that a criminal investigation has not been opened into the matter.

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