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Republicans reportedly knew about Brett Kavanaugh’s second accuser — and then tried to speed up his confirmation

According to the New Yorker, GOP staffers found out about Deborah Ramirez’s allegations last week.

Sen. Chuck Grassley listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in September 2018.
Sen. Chuck Grassley listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in September 2018.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Emily Stewart covers business and economics for Vox and writes the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

The New Yorker on Sunday published a story on a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. Beyond the contents of the allegations themselves, there is another explosive layer that reflects more broadly on the Republican Party: Senior GOP staffers knew about Ramirez’s allegation last week, and instead of taking a pause to investigate, they appeared to try to speed up the confirmation process.

Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow at the New Yorker reported that the offices of at least four Democratic senators received information about Ramirez’s allegation and at least two were investigating. Republicans knew about it too:

Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote.

It appears as though the thinking among some members of the GOP wasn’t that Ramirez’s story is disturbing and warrants a probe — it was that it looks bad, so better to get to a vote quickly before it comes out.

Some Republicans are denying they knew about Ramirez’s allegations and are, as they did with Ford, blaming Democrats for holding information until the last minute. Senate Judiciary Committee Republican staffers say they learned of Ramirez’s allegations in the New Yorker’s story and hadn’t heard about them previously, according to Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office.

Ramirez, who attended Yale University with Kavanaugh, says that during their freshman year of college, he exposed himself to her and thrust his genitals in her face while both were drunk at a party.

“I remember a penis being in front of my face,” Ramirez told the New Yorker. “I knew that’s not what I wanted, even in that state of mind.”

She is the second woman to come forward with allegations against Kavanaugh. Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford alleges that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while in high school, pinning her down on a bed, trying to take off her clothes, and covering her mouth when she tried to scream as a friend, Mark Judge, looked on.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations of both women.

Some Republicans don’t seem to want the truth on Kavanaugh

Senate Republicans appear determined to push on with Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, despite allegations from Ford and, now, Ramirez. Though many of them said they wanted to hear from Ford, they pushed to do so sooner rather than later — setting deadlines for her lawyers to agree to details of a possible hearing, and initially demanding any hearing take place Monday, one week after Ford came forward. After days of back-and-forth, the judiciary committee, under Grassley’s leadership, agreed to hear testimony from both Ford and Kavanaugh on Thursday and push back a vote.

Grassley apologized to Kavanaugh on Twitter for the delay. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, has called for a delay of Thursday’s hearing after Ramirez’s allegation came to light.

If the New Yorker’s reporting is to be believed, the GOP isn’t just trying to hastily confirm Kavanaugh because they believe he will be a good Supreme Court justice and want the matter handled — it’s because they’re concerned about what else could come out.

It’s part of a broader pattern of haste that’s played out with the Kavanaugh nomination: Thousands of pages of documents from Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House were released the day before his confirmation hearing began at the start of September. Republicans have refused to subpoena Judge to testify along with Ford and Kavanaugh about her allegations.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) last week pushed hard for the Kavanaugh confirmation process to accelerate. He tweeted on Wednesday it is “imperative” the committee move forward and take a vote “ASAP” and the next day tweeted that the nomination was “still on track.”

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, before the New Yorker story came out, Graham, who sits on the judiciary panel, said he wanted to listen to Ford and felt “sorry for her” for being “used” by Democrats — but that he still planned to vote for Kavanaugh. “Unless there’s something more, no, I’m not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh’s life over this,” he said.

It’s not clear whether the Ramirez allegations will change that calculation. A spokesperson for Graham said the first his office had heard of the allegations was Sunday night.

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