President Donald Trump has expressed strong support for his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, despite a new allegation of sexual misconduct against him.
Speaking in New York, Trump said the allegations against Kavanaugh are "totally political."
"There’s a chance that this could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything, but I am with Judge Kavanaugh," Trump said, calling him an "outstanding person."
The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday two U.S. senators are investigating a charge Kavanaugh exposed himself at a Yale University dormitory party during the 1983-1984 academic year. Deborah Ramirez described the incident in an interview after being contacted by the magazine.
Ramirez admitted she had been drinking and she has gaps in her memories. But after consulting a lawyer, Ramirez said she felt confident in her recollection.
Kavanaugh denied the allegations calling them "smears, pure and simple."
In a statement released through the Senate Judiciary Committee Kavanaugh said the smears "are a threat to any man or woman who wishes to serve our country. Such grotesque and obvious character assassination - if allowed to succeed - will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from service."
A White House statement denounced the accusation, "This 35-year-old uncorroborated claim is the latest in a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear a good man down," it said. "This claim is denied by all who were said to be present and is wholly inconsistent with what many women and men who knew Judge Kavanaugh at the time in college say. The White House stands firmly behind Judge Kavanaugh.”
Kavanaugh has also denied allegations by a woman who claimed he sexually assaulted her when they were both high school teenagers in 1982.
The woman, Christine Blasey Ford is expected to testify Thursday before the Senate Judiciary committee .
But the new allegations that were reported Sunday have prompted a key senator to call for "an immediate postponement" of any further proceedings by the committee, which is considering Kavanaugh's nomination. California's Diane Feinstein, the committee's top Democrat, sent a letter Sunday to Republican chairman Chuck Grassley urging him to refer the new allegations to the FBI in order to ensure "a fair, independent process that will gather all the facts."
Ford's lawyers are not pleased with, but agreed to the committee's decision not to call any other witnesses. They include Kavanaugh's friend, Mike Judge, who Ford says was in the room when the alleged sexual attack occurred. Judge has said the incident did not occur.
"Despite actual threats to her safety and her life, Dr. Ford believes it is important for senators to hear directly from her about the sexual assault committed against her," the lawyers said in a statement.
In his statement Sunday, Kavanaugh said he is looking forward "to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name - and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building - against these last-minute allegations."
Kavanaugh is Trump's choice to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court created by Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement.
His confirmation by the Republican-controlled Senate seemed assured until Ford alleged in a Washington Post interview that a drunken 17-year-old Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and tried to tear her clothes off. She says he put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream.
Capitol Hill correspondent Michael Bowman contributed to this report.