WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A third woman came forward in a statement to a Senate panel made public on Wednesday accusing Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee, of sexual misconduct in the 1980s, further inflaming an already contentious confirmation process. Kavanaugh immediately denied the allegation.
Lawyer Michael Avenatti said on Twitter he has submitted a sworn statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee from a woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. Reuters was not immediately able to verify the substance of the woman's allegation.
Kavanaugh rejected the allegations in a statement released by the White House. "This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don't know who this is and this never happened," Kavanaugh said.
Avenatti also represents adult film star Stormy Daniels, who previously filed suit against Trump to try to void a non-disclosure agreement under which the president's former personal lawyer paid her $130,000 not to discuss her alleged relationship with Trump more than a decade ago.
Avenatti's statements represent the latest development in the pitched battle in the U.S. Senate over whether to confirm Kavanaugh, a conservative federal appeals court judge picked by Trump in July, for a lifetime job on the top U.S. court. Three women have now accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called on Kavanaugh to withdraw in light of the allegations against him, and said if he does not, an FBI investigation is needed before any Senate vote on confirmation.
"If our Republican colleagues proceed without an investigation, it would be a travesty for the honor of the Supreme Court and our country," Schumer said in a statement.
Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of a sexual assault in 1982, released signed documents from Ford's husband, Russell Ford, and three friends. Ford and Kavanaugh are due to testify before the Judiciary Committee at a high-stakes hearing on Thursday ahead of a vote scheduled in the panel on Friday on his nomination.
Senator Chuck Grassley, who chairs the committee, said on Wednesday the hearing will go forward as planned.
The allegations against Kavanaugh have endangered his chances of confirmation in the Senate, which Trump's fellow Republicans control by a narrow 51-49 margin. The controversy has unfolded ahead of the Nov. 6 congressional elections in which Democrats seek to take control from the Republicans.
Russell Ford said his wife shared her story during a couples therapy session in 2012.
"I remember her saying that the attacker's name was Brett Kavanaugh, that he was a successful lawyer who had grown up in Christine's home town, and that he was well-known in the Washington, D.C. community," Russell Ford said.
A long-time friend, Keith Koegler, said that in 2016 Ford told her that as a high school student she was sexually assaulted by a boy who became a federal judge in Washington. Before Trump nominated Kavanaugh in July, Ford and Koegler had an email exchange in which she said she had been referring to Kavanaugh, Koegler said.
Two other friends, Adela Gildo-Mazzon and Rebecca White, said Ford had made similar remarks to them, in 2013 and 2017 respectively, describing an alleged assault by a teenager who later became a federal judge.
Ford has said she remained silent about the alleged assault for years after it occurred. The documents are intended to show committee members that Ford did discuss the incident long before contacting lawmakers in July after Trump nominated Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh's legal team has submitted copies of his personal calendar pages from the summer of 1982, when Ford said the alleged incident occurred.
In testimony released in advance of the hearing, Kavanaugh denied all the allegations against him but said he was "not perfect" during his high school days.
"I drank beer with my friends, usually on weekends. Sometimes I had too many. In retrospect, I said and did things in high school that make me cringe now," he added.
Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, said in an interview published in the Washington Post last week that Kavanaugh attacked her and tried to remove her clothing when both were high school students in Maryland while he was drunk at a party when he was 17 years old and she was 15.