Attorney Michael Avenatti on Wednesday produced an explosive claim from a woman named Julie Swetnick, who said she was drugged and raped by a "gang" of boys at a high school party where Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was present, though she did not say that Kavanaugh participated in the alleged rape.
The disclosure of new allegations came the day before Kavanaugh and another woman who has accused him of sexual misconduct are set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and hours before President Trump lashed out about the accusations at a news conference, calling them false but saying he could be convinced otherwise after hearing testify.
In the latest set of accusations to emerge, Swetnick said she was first introduced to Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, at a house party "in approximately 1980-1981," and she observed Kavanaugh engage in abusive and physically aggressive behavior toward girls, which included "attempting to remove or shift girls' clothing to expose private body parts."
Swetnick also alleged that she witnessed both Kavanaugh and Judge spiking the punch at house parties with "drugs and/or grain alcohol" to target specific girls "so they could then be 'gang raped' in a side room or bedroom by a 'train' of numerous boys." Swetnick claimed she was the victim of one of these rapes in 1982. Both Kavanaugh and Judge were present, Swetnick said, but she did not contend that Kavanaugh participated in the alleged rape.
"Shortly after the incident, I shared what had transpired with at least two other people," Swetnick said in a signed declaration submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, another woman who has accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexual misconduct, are scheduled to testify before the committee on Thursday. "During the incident, I was incapacitated without my consent and unable to fight off the boys raping me. I believe I was drugged using Quaaludes or something similar placed in what I was drinking."
In a statement released by the White House Wednesday afternoon, Kavanaugh denied the claims made by Swetnick. "This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don't know who this is and this never happened," Kavanaugh said. Judge also denied the allegations,
Judge also denied the allegations, referencing Swetnick by name in a statement from his lawyer to NBC News. "Mr. Judge vehemently denies Ms. Swetnick's allegations," the attorney said.
Swetnick's allegations align with comments made by Elizabeth Rasor, a former girlfriend of Judge, who told the New Yorker that Judge told her "of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman."
A spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee said in a statement that "Michael Avenatti provided a declaration to the Judiciary Committee. Committee lawyers are in the process of reviewing it now." The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though President Trump dismissed Swetnick's allegations as "false" on Twitter.
Kavanaugh has vehemently denied previous claims of sexual misconduct made by two women — Ford and Deborah Ramirez. He also claimed in a Fox New interview on Monday night he was a virgin during and after high school.
There is no statute of limitations for felony sexual assault in Maryland.
Here's what else happened Wednesday surrounding Kavanaugh and his Supreme Court nomination:
Trump criticizes accusations but says he’d be open to changing his mind on Supreme Court pick, depending on evidence at Thursday’s hearing
In an afternoon press conference, Trump slammed the accusations against his Supreme Court nomination but said he could still be persuaded. The president also suggested an FBI probe into the allegations against Kavanaugh wouldn't have changed the mind of Democrats. He said he believed the accusations were part of "a big fat con job."
However, the president added that he'd be open to changing his mind about his Supreme Court pick, depending on what happens at Thursday's hearing.
Trump also faced questions from reporters about the numerous women who have accused him of sexual misconduct. Trump insisted the allegations against him were false and said his experience influences how he views Kavanaugh's situation.
White House releases letter refuting Swetnick’s allegations
The White House attempted to push back on the third accuser's claims, releasing a letter it said was from more than 60 men and women who knew Kavanaugh in high school, according to NBC.
"In the extensive amount of time we collectively spent with Brett, we do not recall having ever met someone named Julie Swetnick," the letter said. It added, "he is a man of honor, integrity, and compassion. These shameful attacks must end. This process is a disgrace and is harming good people."
Kavanaugh’s attorney: Swetnick witnessed gang rapes and ‘never came forward?’
Beth Wilkinson, Kavanaugh's attorney, questioned Swetnick's explosive claims that she witnessed Kavanaugh and Judge spiking the punch at multiple house parties with the intent of targeting specific girls and gang raping them.
"It's outrageous. Really? You witnessed gang rapes and you never said anything? You've never come forward?" Wilkinson said on CNN, pointing out that her client has been under intense scrutiny for months.
"As a parent of a daughter and two sons, I can not imaging not coming forward when this man was named." Wilkinson said.
In her signed declaration submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Swetnick, who the New York Times reported graduated three years ahead of Kavanaugh, claimed she had "a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their "turn" with a girl inside the room." She was unclear on the number of parties where she witnessed alleged incidents of rape.
All 10 Democrats on Judiciary Committee call for Kavanaugh’s withdrawal
In the wake of Swetnick's explosive allegations, all 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are calling for Trump to either withdraw Kavanaugh's nomination or order the FBI to conduct an investigation of all three women's allegations of sexual misconduct.
"Judge Kavanaugh is being considered for a promotion. He is asking for a lifetime appointment to the nation's highest court where he will have the opportunity to rule on matters that will impact Americans for decades," the senators wrote. "The standard of character and fitness for a position on the nation's highest court must be higher than this. Judge Kavanaugh has staunchly declared his respect for women and issued blanket denials of any possible misconduct, but those declarations are in serious doubt."
Trump dismisses Swetnick’s allegations as ‘false’
Trump dismissed Swetnick's allegations as "false" in a sweeping attack on Twitter of her attorney, Michael Avenatti.
Trump had been in meetings at the United Nations most of the morning, but he was remaining defiant as some Democrats call for Kavanaugh to withdraw his nomination. "Nothing's changed," an official traveling with the president told CNN when asked if Trump was standing by Kavanaugh.
"A Supreme Court nomination is not worth more than the lives of survivors," Sen. Cory Booker (D, N.J.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote on Twitter Wednesday afternoon. "There must be a full investigation of these allegations of criminal behavior, and Judge Kavanaugh's nomination must be withdrawn."
Kavanaugh says he was ‘not perfect’ in high school
In his prepared testimony for Thursday's Senate hearing, Kavanaugh admitted he drank "too many" beers at times and that he was "not perfect" in high school, but once again denied claims he sexually assaulted Ford during a high school party.
"What I've been accused of is far more serious than juvenile misbehavior," Kavanaugh said. "I categorically and unequivocally deny the allegation against me by Dr. Ford. I never had any sexual or physical encounter of any kind with Dr. Ford."
Kavanaugh added that he wasn't questioning that Ford "may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time," but reiterated it was not him.
"I am innocent of this charge," Kavanaugh said.
Kavanaugh accuser produces four affidavits corroborating her sexual assault claims
With Christine Blasey Ford scheduled to testify Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, her legal team has produced four affidavits from individuals to back up her allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The four individuals — Adela Gildo-Mazzon, Keith Koegler, Rebecca White and Ford's husband, Russell Ford — all claim that prior to President Trump nominating Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, Ford revealed to them he had sexually assaulted her at a party while the two were in high school.
Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the claims made by Ford and a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, who says he exposed himself to her at a party while they were classmates at Yale University.
In his affidavit, Russell Ford, who married Christine in June 2002, said his wife shared the details during a couple's therapy session in 2012, noting that the incident with Kavanaugh was traumatic for her because "she felt like she had no control and was physically dominated."
"Christine was very conflicted about whether she should speak publicly about what Mr. Kavanaugh had done to her, and she knew it would be emotionally trying for her to relive this traumatic experience in her life and hard on our family to deal with the inevitable public reaction," Russell Ford said in the affidavit. "However, in the end she believed her civic duty required her to speak out."
The historic hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. and will be open to the public. There will be three cameras in the courtroom to provide live coverage of the hearings, according to CNN's Sunlen Sefaty. Both Ford and Kavanaugh will face five minutes of questions from each senator on the committee, though Republicans have indicated they would yield their time to an outside prosecutor, who will question the the witnesses on their behalf.
President Trump told reporters he would have preferred a faster confirmation process that would have ignored allegations of sexual misconduct, a dramatic shift from last week, when he said he was willing to endure a delay to make sure Ford had the opportunity to testify.
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have selected Rachel Mitchell, the sex crimes bureau chief for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office in Phoenix, to question both Kavanaugh and Ford during tomorrow's hearings. Democrats on the committee will question both witnesses themselves.
Senate Democrats have had no apparent contact with Christine Blasey Ford — and have no idea how she'll hold up to questioning — according to Politico.
John Clune, Ramirez's attorney, told the Today show that Trump's comments about his client being "totally inebriated and all messed up" were "incredibly disturbing."
Depending on the outcome of Thursday's hearing, a confirmation vote on Kavanaugh's nomination could take place as early as this weekend. But according to NBC News, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn't yet have the votes.