CAPITOL HILL - Attorneys for the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago has submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee signed and sworn statements from four people who say they were aware of the allegation before it was publicized.
Lawyers for accuser Christine Blasey Ford said the documents were signed by Ford's husband, who said she first told him about the alleged assault during a couple's therapy session in 2012. The documents show that friend Keith Koegler said Ford broached the topic with him in 2016 and mentioned Kavanaugh's name three months ago.
The statements, first reported by USA Today, will likely be used by Ford's lawyers during a Thursday confirmation hearing that could help determine the fate of Kavanaugh's nomination. Both Ford and Kavanaugh are scheduled to testify.
Ford, a college professor in California, said when they were high school students in 1982 Kavanaugh forced her onto a bed, groped her and tried to remove her clothes at a house party.
Kavanaugh has denied Ford's accusation and his attorneys are expected to reinforce his claim he did not attend the party. His lawyers sent the committee five pages from his calendar from the summer of 1982. The pages show Kavanaugh's sleepover with friends, summer parties, a beach trip and a list of chores.
Senate Republicans have hired a female prosecutor in Arizona to question Ford to avoid the appearance of bias by the all-male group of Republicans on the Senate panel.
A press release from committee chairman Chuck Grassley's office described Rachel Mitchell as "a career prosecutor with decades of experience prosecuting sex crimes."
The Senate's partisan brawl over Kavanaugh intensified Tuesday, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of rushing to convict Kavanaugh and "destroy his good name" with unproven allegations, abandoning any presumption of innocence — a bedrock principle of American jurisprudence.
"Justice matters. Evidence matters. Facts matter," McConnell said. "This is America here. ... Everyone deserves better than this, not just Judge Kavanaugh."
Democrats accuse Republicans of treating Ford dismissively at a time when victims of sexual crimes are speaking out across the nation.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said, "Leader McConnell should rethink what he said in the heat of the moment and apologize to Dr. Ford."
The sharp exchanges on the Senate floor came one day after Kavanaugh appeared on U.S. cable television to refute all allegations of sexual misconduct.
A new allegation by Deborah Ramirez, reported Sunday by The New Yorker magazine, prompted the Senate Judiciary Committee's top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, to call for a postponement of Thursday's hearing.
Ramirez's lawyer told NBC's Today show she is willing to testify publicly to Congress.
Republicans have rejected any further delays in the confirmation process, scheduling a judiciary committee vote for Friday, which will be followed by consideration by the full Senate.
Trump said Wednesday that senators should have fast-tracked Kavanaugh's confirmation process and maintained the Republican lawmakers have been respectful of Ford.
"The Senate, the Republicans, could not be nicer in the way they're handling this. They could have pushed it through two and a half weeks ago ... which is frankly what I would have preferred. But they didn't do that."
Kavanaugh, a judicial conservative and Trump's second Supreme Court pick, was nominated to fill the vacancy created by Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement.