Top Democrats call for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's withdrawal

Key Points
  • All Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee urged President Donald Trump to pull Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. 
  • The appeals judge faces accusations of sexual misconduct, which he denies. 
  • He is set to testify Thursday about a sexual assault accusation against him. 
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), talks to reporters about the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the wake of a woman's accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago, on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 18, 2018
Mike Segar | Reuters

Top Democrats pushed for President Donald Trump to withdraw the nomination of his Supreme Court choice Brett Kavanaugh after the latest explosive allegations against the judge.

In a letter to Trump dated Wednesday, all Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee urged the president to pull the appeals judge's nomination or "direct the FBI to re-open its background investigation" to examine accusations of sexual misconduct. The members of the panel, which oversees judicial nominations, argued that the claims against Kavanaugh are more than enough "to trigger a meaningful nonpartisan investigation."

"The standard of character and fitness for a position on the nation's highest court must be higher than this," the Democrats wrote. "Judge Kavanaugh has staunchly declared his respect for women and issued blanket denials of any possible misconduct, but those declarations are in serious doubt."

"We therefore ask that you immediately direct an FBI investigation or withdraw this nomination," read the letter, signed by committee ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sen. Kamala Harris of California.

Sexual misconduct allegations hang over Kavanaugh. Two female senators may decide his fate
Misconduct claims hang over Kavanaugh. Female senators may decide his fate

Trump stands behind Kavanaugh after the latest accusation, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNBC on Wednesday. Earlier, the president called the accusations a "con game" and said Kavanaugh has "been treated very unfairly by the Democrats."

In an affidavit sent to the Judiciary Committee, Julie Swetnick alleged that Kavanaugh and others while in high school were involved in efforts to spike the drinks of girls who were targeted for rape. The accusation comes only a day before Kavanaugh is set to testify publicly along with Christine Blasey Ford, who claims the appeals judge assaulted her in high school.

Kavanaugh has vehemently denied both claims, as well as a third sexual misconduct accusation against him. In a prepared statement for Thursday's hearing released by the Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh said he "will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process."

After the latest allegations, Senate Democrats' calls for Kavanaugh's withdrawal — or a delay in his confirmation — intensified. The minority party in the Senate, which has largely fought Kavanaugh's nomination since it was announced, stepped up its efforts after Ford's accusation against the judge.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018.
Bill Clark | CQ-Roll Call Group | Getty Images

Republicans have pushed to quickly confirm Kavanaugh ahead of November's midterm elections, when Democrats could win a majority in the chamber.

"I strongly believe Judge Kavanaugh should withdraw from consideration," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement Wednesday. "If he will not, at the very least, the hearing and vote should be postponed while the FBI investigates all of these allegations. If our Republican colleagues proceed without an investigation, it would be a travesty for the honor of the Supreme Court and our country."

At least two other Democratic senators, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, have called for Kavanaugh to withdraw.

Merkley filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in an effort to stop his confirmation, arguing the Trump administration violated the Constitution because some documents related to Kavanaugh were not released.

The Judiciary Committee could vote on Kavanaugh's nomination as early as Friday to advance it to the full Senate.