US President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court has said he is “not going to let false accusations” drive him out of the nomination process.
Speaking to Fox News on Monday, Brett Kavanaugh said he was “not going anywhere” despite the sexual misconduct allegations levied against him.
He spoke out a day after a former Yale University classmate said he once exposed himself to her at a party.
The judge has already denied sexual assault allegations against him.
“I’m not going to let false accusations drive us out of this process,” Judge Kavanaugh said in an interview with Fox News’ Martha MacCallum.
His first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, will give evidence to the committee on Thursday, followed by rebuttal testimony from Judge Kavanaugh.
She alleges he drunkenly tried to remove her clothing, pinned her to a bed and covered her mouth at a high school party when she was 15 and he was 17.
Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court would mark a major victory for the Trump administration, as he could tilt America’s top court in favour of conservatives for years to come.
What did Kavanaugh say?
He appeared on conservative-leaning Fox News alongside his wife, Ashley, on Monday night, as Republicans fought to keep his nomination on track.
Judge Kavanaugh strongly denied the latest allegation saying he “never sexually assaulted anyone, in high school or otherwise”.
“We’re looking for a fair process where I can be heard defending my integrity, my lifelong record of promoting dignity and equality for women – starting with the women who knew me when I was 14 years old,” Judge Kavanaugh told Fox News.
“I’m not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone in some place, but what I know is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone.”
He added he was a virgin for “many years” after leaving high school, although the allegations do not include rape or consensual sexual intercourse.
What is the new claim?
On Sunday, Deborah Ramirez, a Yale university classmate of Judge Kavanaugh, told the New Yorker that he had exposed himself to her at a dormitory party in the early 1980s.
“I remember a penis being in front of my face,” she said. “I knew that’s not what I wanted, even in that state of mind.”
Ms Ramirez, 53, said she ended up touching the man’s genitals while attempting to push him away.
She says she remembers Brett Kavanaugh standing next to her and laughing as he pulled up his pants.
The article says Ms Ramirez acknowledges gaps in her memory caused by alcohol that night.
The New York Times said it had been unable to corroborate her story, despite “several dozen” interviews.
Michael Avenatti, a US lawyer known for representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her cases against President Trump, told reporters he is representing a third woman with “credible information” about sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.
He said he expected his client to come forward with her claims against Judge Kavanaugh within 48 hours.
How does the White House see it?
Speaking at the United Nations in New York on Monday, Mr Trump said Judge Kavanaugh’s accusers had come “out of the woodwork” to make “highly unsubstantiated” and “totally political” allegations.
“There’s a chance this could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything,” he said.
Meanwhile, senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said: “It’s starting to feel like a vast left-wing conspiracy.”
Her phrase echoed Hillary Clinton’s 1998 depiction of infidelity allegations against her husband, President Bill Clinton, as a “vast right-wing conspiracy”.
Democrats have continued to call for the vote to be delayed to allow for the claims to be fully investigated.
Deep in the partisan trenches
Republican strategists have been saying for weeks that they believe Brett Kavanaugh could still be confirmed to the Supreme Court – if no new accusers emerge.
Now another woman has come forward.
Deborah Ramirez’s recollection of the events from their first year at Yale is admittedly foggy. And as with Christine Blasey Ford, there are no supporting witnesses. Nevertheless, it becomes increasingly difficult for Judge Kavanaugh’s side to dismiss what could now be characterised as a pattern of conduct, rather than an isolated accusation.
Thursday’s hearing, if it takes place, will probably be as much about Judge Kavanaugh’s history with alcohol and the 1980s teen party culture as it will about any specific incident. That is much trickier ground for the nominee.
The latest developments are already forcing both sides deeper into their partisan trenches. The White House is sticking by its man and focusing fire on what it views as a Democratic conspiracy. Those on the left see Republicans in a headlong rush to confirmation no matter the consequences or new information coming to light.
Meanwhile, in the middle, are the same handful of moderate Republican senators. And in just over a month, mid-term voters also will have their say.
BBC contributed to this report.