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What Senate Democrats did with the new Kavanaugh allegation

Last week, rumors began to circulate on Capitol Hill about an incident in college involving President Donald...

Posted: Sep 24, 2018 9:22 PM
Updated: Sep 24, 2018 9:22 PM

Last week, rumors began to circulate on Capitol Hill about an incident in college involving President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee where Brett Kavanaugh allegedly exposed himself at a party at Yale, making their way to Senate Democrats who referred the matter to an attorney in Colorado.

Among the offices aware of the allegation was Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono's, who told CNN Monday she passed the information along to the office of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel tasked with vetting Kavanaugh's nomination.

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But Senate Democrats acknowledged Monday they have no knowledge if the allegations are true, though they consider them credible, and are calling for further investigation into the matter.

Hirono told CNN she heard nothing else about the allegation until The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow contacted her Sunday for a comment about a story publishing the bombshell allegations, which Kavanaugh vehemently denies.

A Senate aide who was aware of the allegation said Hirono's office contacted Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet's office because the accuser, Deborah Ramirez, is one of his Colorado constituents. Others aware of this allegation contacted Bennet's office as well.

At that point, Bennet's office contacted the former Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett, and asked Garnett to reach out to Ramirez because they believed she may have needed legal representation, according to Bennet aides, who said multiple sources had reached out to them about the allegation. Those conversations occurred mid-last week.

How the information was handled by Democrats is now a key point of controversy as the GOP contends that it amounts to an orchestrated smear campaign against Trump's nominee. Democrats say the information is credible and deserves further investigating by the FBI.

But several Democratic sources strongly dispute that there was an active investigation into those allegations as reported by The New Yorker.

Republicans attacked Democrats for withholding the information -- and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and other Republicans on the committee denied having any knowledge of the matter.

Asked about her role, Hirono defended her efforts and would not explain why she didn't tell Grassley — other than to call for further investigation.

"My staff along with other offices I know got reports that there may be another victim, so we passed that information along to the staff of the ranking member," Hirono told CNN. "And that was it until I heard from Ronan Farrow on the day the article came out, because he knows how vocal I have been on this issue."

Asked to respond to Hirono's assertion that she passed the information along to Feinstein's office last week, a Feinstein spokesman said "there were (and are) many rumors swirling, but we had no details about this."

CNN has not independently confirmed The New Yorker's reporting.

Kavanaugh has categorically denied the account, saying in a statement, "This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple. I look 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."

White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement, "This 35-year-old, uncorroborated claim is the latest in a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man. 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."

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