The confirmation process for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh should be halted until the FBI has investigated allegations of sexual misconduct by him, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet said Monday.
The Colorado Democrat’s declaration came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused Democrats on the Senate floor of waging a “smear campaign” against Kavanaugh and called thelatest allegation by a Boulder woman “another orchestrated, last-minute hit on the nominee.”
McConnell vowed that senators would vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination “in the near future.”
Bennet said last week he’s decided to vote against Kavanaugh if the nomination makes it to the full Senate.
Deborah Ramirez, a 53-year-old Boulder woman who attended Yale University with Kavanaugh, told The New Yorker that he pulled down his pants and thrust his penis in her face at an alochol-fueled dorm party in the early 1980s, as Colorado Politics reported Sunday.
The new allegations emerged just hours after the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled an extraordinary hearing Thursday to hear from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a California woman who says he sexually assaulted her in Maryland when both were teenagers.
Kavanaugh has denied the allegations, denouncing the women as leveling “smears, pure and simple.”
In a tweet Monday, Bennet said: “Both Dr. Ford & Ms. Ramirez have said they are willing to provide their accounts to the FBI under oath. Anyone who is disputing their accounts should also be willing to do so under oath. The nomination process should not move forward until the FBI investigates these allegations.”
His Colorado colleague, Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, said he supports an investigation into the new allegations by the judiciary committee’s GOP-controlled staff, but he stopped short of calling for the FBI to look into the charges. A spokesman for Gardner didn’t respond to an inquiry seeking clarification.
Meanwhile, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York argued Monday that a “quiet, serious and thorough” FBI background check would be the best way to resolve the raging controversy. GOP senators should welcome the probe, if they really believe the allegations are part of a “smear campaign,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.