Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday calling the allegations of sexual misconduct and assault against him "smears, pure and simple," and reaffirming that he "will not be intimidated into withdrawing" from the confirmation process.

The big picture: With a showdown hearing already set for Thursday with his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh now faces additional allegations of sexual misconduct via a report from Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer in the New Yorker that was published yesterday.

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Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus

Marc Short with Katie Miller, Vice President Pence's communications director, in March. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Reuters

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force.

Updated 29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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Opposition leader Leopoldo López flees Venezuela

Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo López outside the Spanish embassy in Caracas, in 2019. Photo: Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images

Leopoldo López, a former political prisoner and prominent Venezuelan opposition leader, has left the country, his Popular Will party confirmed in a statement Saturday.

Why it matters: He's been an influential force in the push to oust President Nicolás Maduro's regime and a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaidó. He'd been in the Spanish ambassador's Caracas residence since escaping house arrest in April 2019 following a failed military uprising.