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As Kavanaugh confronts new misconduct allegation, what happens now?

Kavanaugh recently swore under oath that he had never "committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature." That may not have been true.
Image: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies in Washington
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the third day of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in...

Eight days ago, the political world learned of an important allegation against Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor, came forward to share a story from the early 1980s when, according to her version of events, Kavanaugh "pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it."

The allegedly violent incident, in which Ford reportedly feared for her life, is scheduled to be the subject of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing later this week.

Last night, however, we learned of a new allegation that immediately jolted the larger political fight. Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer reported for the New Yorker:

As Senate Republicans press for a swift vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Senate Democrats are investigating a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. The claim dates to the 1983-84 academic school year, when Kavanaugh was a freshman at Yale University. The offices of at least four Democratic senators have received information about the allegation, and at least two have begun investigating it.

The report is based on an allegation from Deborah Ramirez, who was a classmate of Kavanaugh's at Yale, and who was apparently reluctant to speak with the New Yorker on the record.

The article added, however, that after six days of "carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Ramirez is now calling for the F.B.I. to investigate Kavanaugh's role in the incident."

Ramirez described a dorm-room party in which there was a significant amount of drinking. As she described the events, Ramirez, who is now a volunteer and board member at a non-profit group that helps victims of domestic violence, believes Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at the gathering, and she pushed him away.

As the New Yorker piece added, Kavanaugh recently swore under oath that as a legal adult he had never "committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature." If Ramirez's version of events is correct, that testimony was not true.

As was the case with the Ford allegation, Kavanaugh issued a categorical denial to this new allegation, insisting the incident "did not happen," and vowing to defend his "reputation for character and integrity" later this week. Similarly, the White House continued to express its support for Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, dismissing Ramirez's story as an "uncorroborated claim" and part of "a coordinated smear campaign."

But of particular interest was the response from Senate Republicans. According to the New Yorker's reporting, senior Republican staffers learned of Ramirez's allegation last week. The article added, "Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote."

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) issued a statement last night that seemed to take issue with this. "The committee's majority staff learned the allegations made by Deborah Ramirez about Judge Kavanaugh from this evening's New Yorker report," the Republican said in a statement. "Neither she nor her legal representative have contacted the chairman's office. The article reports that Democratic staff were aware of these allegations, but they never informed Republican staff."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the Judiciary Committee's ranking member, is pushing for another delay in order to give the panel more time to evaluate the latest allegation. As of this morning, it's a safe bet the GOP majority will not grant the request.