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Protests on Capitol Hill Amid New Allegations; Kavanaugh Says He Won't Withdraw

Arrested protesters wait in line for the elevator during a protest against Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the Russell Senate Office Building Rotunda on Sept. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — Activists on Capitol Hill and elsewhere protested the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh today as the Supreme Court nominee, facing additional allegations, said in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that he would “not be intimidated into withdrawing.”

Kavanaugh sent the letter today, a day after the New Yorker published allegations from former fellow Yale  student Deborah Ramirez that the judge exposed himself to her at a party in college.

Feinstein wrote a letter to Grassley on Sunday arguing that the new report shows “an investigation needs to be conducted as part of Judge Kavanaugh’s background investigation by career professionals at the FBI – not partisan staff of the Committee.”

“We need a fair, independent process that will gather all the facts, interview all the relevant witnesses, and ensure the Committee receives a full and impartial report,” Feinstein wrote. “Should the White House continue to refuse to direct the FBI to do its job, the Committee must subpoena all relevant witnesses.”

Kavanaugh’s first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh pinned her on a bed and tried to take off her bikini while covering her mouth at a high school party, is scheduled to testify before the Judiciary Committee along with Kavanaugh on Thursday.

Additionally, attorney Michael Avenatti, who said his client is someone other than Ramirez, on Sunday tweeted an email to Mike Davis, chief counsel for nominations at the Judiciary Committee, in which he said evidence shows Kavanaugh and his friends had house parties in the 1980s at which they plied women with alcohol and drugs “in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them.”

Avenatti tweeted today, “Warning: My client re Kavanaugh has previously done work within the State Dept, U.S. Mint, & DOJ. She has been granted multiple security clearances in the past including Public Trust & Secret. The GOP and others better be very careful in trying to suggest that she is not credible.”

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel tweeted back, “How do we know this is a baseless smear against Judge Kavanaugh? 1) No witnesses. 2) No corroborating evidence. 3) Michael Avenatti is involved.”

Avenatti is arguing that Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s high school friend who denies Ford’s charge that he witnessed the alleged attack, should be subpoenaed to appear before the committee. The attorney said his new evidence involves Judge.

The Montgomery County Sentinel in suburban Maryland today cited investigators speaking on background as confirming they’re looking into another sexual assault allegation after an unnamed person came forward over the weekend. There is no statute of limitations in Maryland for attempted rape.

Kavanaugh told Grassley and Feinstein that “smears, pure and simple” against him “debase our public discourse.”

“But they are also a threat to any man or woman who wishes to serve our country. Such grotesque and obvious character assassination—if allowed to succeed—will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from service,” he wrote.

“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process. The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. The last-minute character assassination will not succeed,” the judge added.

Kavanaugh and his wife, Ashley, taped an interview with Fox News today, scheduled to air tonight. Ford has denied TV interview requests, saying she first wants to testify to Congress.

Ford sent a letter to Grassley on Saturday that was made public today.

“While I am frightened, please know, my fear will not hold me back from testifying and you will be provided with answers to all of your questions. I ask for fair and respectful treatment,” the Palo Alto, Calif., professor wrote.

Ford wrote that she came forward to her congresswoman, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), after Kavanaugh was nominated because “I felt that this was something that a citizen couldn’t NOT do.”

“I felt agony yet urgency and a civic duty to let it be known, in a confidential manner, prior to the nominee being selected,” she said, adding that “while the nationwide outpouring of love has been heartwarming, I am spending considerable time managing death threats, avoiding people following me on freeways, and disconcerting media intrusion, including swarms of vans at my home and unauthorized persons entering my classroom and medical settings where I work.”

The #BelieveSurvivors protests today included walkouts across the country and protesters on Capitol Hill targeting potential swing votes on Kavanaugh, including the office of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Capitol Police said they would release an arrest total at the end of the day; early estimates were over 100.