Bush stands by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh amid sexual misconduct allegation

Alex Brandon  AP

Alex Brandon AP

A Senate panel's scheduled public hearing next week into allegations U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh assaulted a teenage girl when they were both in high school was thrown into doubt on Tuesday.

Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her 36 years ago when they were in high school and she said Judge was a witness.

Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President Donald Trump, said in a statement Monday that Ford's accusation was "completely false".

"Compare that to the 22 witnesses at the 1991 Anita Hill hearing and it's impossible to take this process seriously", Feinstein said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) released a statement Tuesday saying that an investigation was "precedent" and "quite clearly the right thing to do".

Hill is withholding her judgment on Kavanaugh until she hears the testimony. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who is on the committee, said she believes Ford is telling the truth, and emphasized that "the American public deserves to know the character of someone who will serve for his entire life on the highest court in our country".

Knowing her credibility would be questioned, Blasey Ford took and passed a lie detector test about the incident, her lawyer Debra Katz says. In fact, it has occurred only four times in the 20th century and seven times in the 19th, though some nominations - George W. Bush's 2005 selection of Harriet Miers, withdrawn 24 days later, following a storm of criticism from the Republican base - have died before votes in the Senate, the legislative body that alone has the power to approve presidential nominees for the judicial branch through a simple majority. According to NBC News' Leigh Ann Caldwell, Hatch spoke to Kavanaugh about it, and says the Supreme Court nominee is "honest" and "straightforward". At the same time, this is diametrically opposed to the approach Republicans are taking more broadly, which is to say Ford should be heard.

Hill's guidance comes amid mounting calls for Kavanaugh, who has denied Ford's allegations, to withdraw from consideration. She once said that members of the Trump administration who lie for the president have "sold their souls".

After hours debating amongst themselves, top Republican brass chose to host another hearing slated for Monday.

At a minimum, given the allegation and the stakes, the senators who have to decide whether Kavanaugh is fit to sit on the court should not only get to hear directly from both Ford and Kavanaugh, but also to ask questions of both of them as well.

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Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said on radio's "Hugh Hewitt Show" said that he'd not yet received confirmation from Ford that she would appear at the hearing, despite several attempts to reach her camp.

Mrs Ford, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University, detailed her allegations in the Washington Post at the weekend.

"Judge Kavanaugh looks forward to a hearing where he can clear his name of this false allegation".

Leading Democrats have called for a delay while the issue is investigated.

Grassley said Tuesday that he will invite only two witnesses to the hearing to testify before the committee next Monday: Kavanaugh and his accuser Ford.

Trump blamed Democrats for the delay weeks before the USA midterm congressional elections on November 6, but he said there was enough time to get his pick confirmed before the elections.

But the Justice Department said in a statement late Monday that the accusation against Kavanaugh "does not involve any potential federal crime". More important, Republicans want him confirmed before November's elections in the off chance that Democrats take control of the Senate.

Kavanaugh has had a relatively smooth confirmation track until the allegations against him were reported last week.

"She's got a strong group of women who are standing by her and would do anything for her", said Bethany Kay, 44, a CPA for a tech company.

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