On Friday, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer published a searing investigation alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape a young girl when he was a high school student in the 1980s.
Kavanaugh’s accuser, who asked to remain anonymous, alleged that one night at a party, Kavanaugh — who had been drinking — held her down and tried to rape her. When she cried out, one of his friends turned up the music in order to drown out the sound of her protests while Kavanaugh held his hand over her mouth. She was eventually able to escape the attempted rape, though she told Farrow and Mayer that the incident had caused lasting psychological damage that required treatment.
“I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time,” Kavanaugh said in a statement responding to the investigation. His classmate told the New Yorker that he had “no recollection of that.”
According to the New Yorker’s exposé, President Trump nominating Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court seat vacated by outgoing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy revived the traumatic memory. The accuser eventually wrote a letter to both her Congresswoman, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-California), and to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) describing the assault, in the weeks leading up to Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee (of which Sen. Feinstein is the ranking member).
Feinstein did not share the accuser’s letter with her Democratic colleagues, which apparently “caused concerns” among the other Democrats on the committee. She recently relented after news about the letter came to light and amid increased pressure from her colleagues:
For several days, Feinstein declined requests from other Democrats on the Judiciary Committee to share the woman’s letter and other relevant communications. A source familiar with the committee’s activities said that Feinstein’s staff initially conveyed to other Democratic members’ offices that the incident was too distant in the past to merit public discussion, and that Feinstein had “taken care of it.”
Kavanaugh is not the first Supreme Court nominee to face allegations of sexual misconduct. In the 1980s, then-nominee Clarence Thomas was accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill, one of his colleagues, Hill, who worked with Thomas at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Thomas never assaulted Hill, though he did allegedly come on to her multiple times. After Hill rejected his advances, he was accused of created a hostile work environment by talking about graphic pornography, bestiality, and “his own sexual prowess” in Hill’s presence.
After Feinstein sent the letter from Kavanaugh’s accuser to the FBI, it was announced that the Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee had been pushed back one week. A vote in the full senate could come as soon as September 24.
Nick Jewell is a freelance political writer, and a proud resident of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.