Democratic leaders in the Senate have called on President Donald Trump to withdraw his nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, or for the nominee to do so himself.
All of the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), the ranking member, wrote a letter to the president, urging him to pull the nomination or "direct the FBI to re-open its background investigation" in the wake of new allegations of sexual assault, CNBC reports.
"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."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) echoed the letter in a statement delivered before the Senate on Wednesday.
"I strongly believe Judge Kavanaugh should withdraw from consideration, and the president should withdraw this nomination if Kavanaugh won’t do it voluntarily," Schumer said. "If he will not, at the very least the hearing and vote should be postponed while the FBI investigates all of these very serious and very troubling allegations."
Sens. Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.) and Ed Markey (D., Mass.) have also called for Kavanaugh to withdraw. Merkley has filed a lawsuit in an effort to halt the confirmation process, arguing the Trump administration violated the Constitution because some documents related to Kavanaugh were not released.
The latest allegation against Kavanaugh comes from a woman named Julie Swetnick, who is represented by Stormy Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti. Swetnick said she was a victim of a gang rape around 1982, after she graduated high school, and she alleges Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, were "present" there while they were still high schoolers.
She says she "witnessed efforts by Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh and others to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang raped' in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train' of numerous boys."
Kavanaugh denied the allegations, calling the claims "ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone."
"I don't know who this is and this never happened," Kavanaugh added.
Trump also dismissed the claims, and he called Avenatti "a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations" and "a total low-life."