Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation appeared inevitable two weeks ago. Now it looks like it's on life support, with a high-stakes hearing tomorrow.
The big picture: Kavanaugh faces three named accusers who allege he committed sexual misconduct dating to the early 1980s. He has denied all three.
Driving the news: Julie Swetnick became Kavanaugh's third accuser today.
- Swetnick, through her lawyer Michael Avenatti, released a sworn statement that she attended "well over 10" parties from 1981-3 where Kavanaugh was in attendance.
- She says she witnessed Kavanaugh and Mark Judge's efforts "to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be 'gang raped' in a side room or bedroom by a 'train' of numerous boys."
- "I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their 'turn' with a girl inside the room. Those boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh."
- Swetnick, who would have been a college undergraduate at these parties, further alleged that she herself was a victim of such an assault around 1982.
- She says Kavanaugh was present, but does not say whether he participated in the alleged assault.
- N.Y. Times: "None of Ms. Swetnick’s claims could be independently corroborated by The New York Times, and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, declined to make her available for an interview."
- Go deeper: Read Julie Swetnick's affidavit
What Republicans are saying:
- Kavanaugh, via the White House: "This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened."
- Trump: "Avenatti is a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations, like he did on me and like he is now doing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh."
- Lindsey Graham: "I hope people will be highly suspicious of this allegation presented by Michael Avenatti. I have a difficult time believing any person would continue to go to – according to the affidavit – ten parties over a two-year period where women were routinely gang raped and not report it."
Axios' Jonathan Swan emails the view from Trumpworld: "I’ve talked to several sources close to the process, both at the senior level of the White House and close outside advisers."
- At first, everyone was on the spectrum between panicked and fatalistic.
- Even the people who were describing this in Trumpian terms as a last minute partisan scam were acknowledging they were blindsided by this.
- But sentiment has shifted in past few hours. Sources close to the White House are slightly more optimistic than they were when Swan spoke to them this morning.
- The doubts being raised, including from Lindsey Graham, are helping, they say.
The bottom line, per Swan: There’s still a decent chance Republicans ram through the vote. It will be the ugliest spectacle in recent political memory.
Go deeper: How both sides will fight to prove their case tomorrow