US President Donald Trump blasted The New York Times Monday after it updated a story detailing a previously unreported accusation of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to say the alleged victim did not recall the incident.
The article made waves when it was published over the weekend, re-examining sexual assault allegations aired last year at Kavanaugh’s polarizing Senate confirmation hearing.
The article dealt mainly with one of his accusers, Deborah Ramirez, who alleged that Kavanaugh waved his penis in her face at a drunken dormitory party when both were students at Yale.
But it also included a previously unreported account by a Yale classmate who said he saw Kavanaugh expose himself to a different female student at another party.
The report triggered fierce reaction, including from several Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls who called for a new investigation, or even impeachment.
On Monday, The Times said its story failed to include key details: that the alleged victim in the new account declined to be interviewed and “friends say she does not recall the episode.”
“That information has been added to the article,” the Times said in an editor’s note.
Trump seized on the change to launch a full-throated attack on the Times, urging Kavanaugh to sue for libel and suggesting the Justice Department “come to his rescue.”
“DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT THESE HORRIBLE PEOPLE WILL DO OR SAY,” Trump tweeted. “They are looking to destroy, and influence his opinions – but played the game badly. They should be sued!”
Trump accused the media of working in lockstep “with their partner,” the Democrats.
Trump calls for resignations
“The one who is actually being assaulted is Justice Kavanaugh – Assaulted by lies and Fake News!” he said.
The US president later called in a tweet “for the Resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh SMEAR story.”
Kavanaugh has categorically denied engaging in sexual misconduct.
The Times account was adapted from a forthcoming book by the article’s authors, which details an assertion by the Yale classmate that friends of Kavanaugh “pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.”
The witness notified US senators and the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the account, but the FBI did not investigate, according to the Times.
Last September, an outcry by Democrats and some concerned Republicans prompted a one-week suspension of Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation process so that the FBI could conduct a fast-track investigation of allegations against him.
The agency reportedly declined to question dozens of potential witnesses or corroborators.
Several Republicans joined Trump in condemning the Times and the Democrats’ calls for Kavanaugh’s impeachment.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell deplored “another poorly-sourced, thinly-reported, unsubstantiated allegation” against Kavanaugh.
“We all remember this pattern from last time around: Shoot first and correct the facts later,” he told senators.
Senator Lindsey Graham, whose ardent defence of Kavanaugh last year helped salvage his nomination, charged Democrats with seeking to “ruin Justice Kavanaugh’s life for political gain.”
“As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I promise you Justice Kavanaugh will not be impeached over these scurrilous accusations,” Graham tweeted.