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story.lead_photo.caption President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh readies his papers before he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, for the third day of his confirmation to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Friday denied an allegation of sexual misconduct from when he was in high school, seeking to defuse a potential threat to his confirmation as a handful of key senators remained silent on whether they would vote for him.

In a statement released by the White House, Kavanaugh said: "I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time."

Senate Republicans insist Kavanaugh's confirmation remains on track. But the allegation has inflamed an already intense political battle over President Donald Trump's nominee. It also pushes the #MeToo movement into the court fight, less than two months before congressional elections that have seen a surge of female Democratic candidates.

The New Yorker magazine reported the alleged incident took place at a party when Kavanaugh, now 53, was attending Georgetown Preparatory School. The woman making the allegation attended a nearby school.

The magazine said the woman sent a letter about the allegation to Democrats. A Democratic aide and another person familiar with the letter confirmed Friday to The Associated Press that the allegation is sexual in nature. Two other people familiar with the matter confirmed to the AP that the alleged incident happened in high school. They were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The AP has not confirmed the details in The New Yorker's account.

Rallying to Kavanaugh's defense, 65 women who knew him in high school issued a letter, released by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying he has "always treated women with decency and respect."

"We are women who have known Brett Kavanaugh for more than 35 years and knew him while he attended high school between 1979 and 1983," wrote the women, who said most of them had attended all-girl high schools in the area. "For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect."

The swift pushback comes after the Senate Judiciary Committee's top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California, notified federal investigators about information she received about the nominee.

Feinstein won't disclose the information publicly, but the FBI confirmed it has included it in Kavanaugh's background file at the committee, now available confidentially to all senators.

Kavanaugh's nomination has divided the Senate and the new information complicates the process, especially as key Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, are under pressure from outside groups seeking to sway their votes on grounds that Kavanaugh might vote to undercut the Roe v. Wade ruling. One activist group favoring abortion choice, NARAL, called on Kavanaugh to withdraw from consideration.

The Judiciary Committee, which has finished confirmation hearings for Kavanagh, still plans to vote Thursday on whether to recommend that he be confirmed by the full Senate, a spokesman said.

The White House called Feinstein's move an "11th hour attempt to delay his confirmation."

Collins held an hour-long phone call with Kavanaugh on Friday, her spokeswoman confirmed. It had been a previously scheduled follow-up to an initial visit that Kavanaugh made to her office in August. It was not immediately clear if they discussed the new information.

If Collins or Murkowski should vote for Kavanaugh, he is likely to be confirmed. Every other Republican in the Senate is expected to vote yes — and some Democrats from Trump-won states may join them — though it remains to be seen if the misconduct allegation will cost him any support.

Feinstein said in a statement Thursday that she "received information from an individual concerning the nomination." She said the person "strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision."

The FBI confirmed that it received the information Wednesday evening and included it in Kavanaugh's background file, which is maintained as part of his nomination. The agency said that is its standard process.

Feinstein's statement that she had "referred the matter to federal investigative authorities" jolted Capitol Hill and threatened to disrupt what had been a steady path toward confirmation for Kavanaugh by Republicans eager to see the conservative judge on the court.

Feinstein, who is up for re-election this year, has held the letter close. Democratic senators on the panel met privately Wednesday evening and discussed the information, according to Senate aides who were not authorized to discuss the situation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Some senators, including the No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, learned about the information for the first time at the meeting, according to one of the aides.

A spokeswoman for Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., declined to confirm reports that the congresswoman had forwarded a letter containing the allegations to Feinstein. The spokeswoman said the office has a confidentiality policy regarding casework for constituents.

A White House spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec, said the FBI has vetted Kavanaugh "thoroughly and repeatedly" during his career in government and the judiciary.

She said Kavanaugh has had 65 meetings with senators — including with Feinstein — has sat through over 30 hours of testimony and publicly addressed more than 2,000 questions. "Not until the eve of his confirmation has Sen. Feinstein or anyone raised the specter of new 'information' about him," she said.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican and a member of the committee, was also skeptical.

"Let me get this straight: this is statement about secret letter regarding a secret matter and an unidentified person. Right," he tweeted.

Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, was unaware of the information until it was made public, according to a GOP committee aide. Kavanaugh has undergone six federal background checks over his time in government, including one for the nomination, the aide said.

Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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  • smmlv3
    September 14, 2018 at 12:24 p.m.

    Ms. Fienstein will be held accountable for propogating this lie.

  • RobertBolt
    September 14, 2018 at 12:25 p.m.

    Confirmation to such an august post should compel responsible Senators to take all necessary time and actions to ensure the next Justice is a person worthy. This protects the citizens and confers legitimacy to the seated appointee.

  • LR1955
    September 14, 2018 at 12:46 p.m.

    So it appears any thing that a person ever did is up for grabs to put them down. Peeing behind a tree as a youth could be twisted into an Indecent Exposure allegation.

  • Delta123
    September 14, 2018 at 1:13 p.m.

    Senator, have you no shame?

  • ObieOne
    September 14, 2018 at 1:20 p.m.

    I have a confidential letter from an anonymous source that must remain anonymous due to being illegal, saying that Senator Frankenstein kidnapped her at age 12 and kept her in slavery for the last 30 years, beating her and having male senators rape her for favorable senate votes and she just recently escaped.

  • mrcharles
    September 14, 2018 at 1:28 p.m.

    Come on boys will be boys and our commander in chief is not above a little grabbing of some bodies daughters private parts [ parts are parts] . And we know from the Evangelicals celestial decoding of the ancient book , revision # 1,234, stuff happens .

    After all sarah's daddy didnt think that there duggar boy's family needed smeered for the arkansas hobby of sisters nor a lack of support of DT and his frat house antics.

    delta123, Mr. Donald Trump has made it clear shame is not bad, in fact some people admire it. The believers feel it is not that bad , after all who can disagree with the high priced suit wearing successor to Billy Graham and his views on jew, the righteous Franklin Graham [ what a gig he has] who with knowledge deprived from the rest of us mere mammals, tells us this DT is a god appointed divine right of king type guy. From one who hears voices , hard to disagree with assessments of the monies priestly class.

    lr1955, your right, but as to peeing, making tapes of that would be in bad taste. Wonder what putin is doing these days?

    By the way is obama a muslim born in kentucky, I heard that brought up by unnamed sources.

  • RobertBolt
    September 14, 2018 at 1:40 p.m.

    If any person is known to have had sex with a platypus and then goes on to design a better mosquito trap that saves countless lives, he or she will still be most widely remembered as the person who had sex with a platypus. This societal characteristic matters even more to Supreme Court Justices than to most of the rest of us.

  • abb
    September 14, 2018 at 1:41 p.m.

    LOL! 65 NAMED Women come out in support of Kavanaugh...vs the ANONYMOUS Democrat. SIXTY FIVE (65) openly public people vs one anonymous claimant!

    Excerpt: >

    Won’t matter to the commies. They’re only interested in character assassination at this point because that’s all they have left....just like the PR death count going from 65 to ~3,000. However this was a genius move by the good guys to have this in their back pocket, waiting for the Commies to pull the only thing left in their stale playbook. I was actually waiting for Gloria ALL RED to show up, not the CHICOM spy employer, DiFi.

  • ARMNAR
    September 14, 2018 at 2:18 p.m.

    LOL@"commies"

  • abb
    September 14, 2018 at 2:31 p.m.

    ^^^^but trusts an anonymous FAKE claim vs 65 KNOWN persons...because Trump^^^^^^LOL!

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