Washington, Sep 18: US President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and a woman who has accused him of sexually assaulting her decades ago will testify publicly before the Senate on September 24.
In setting the hearing, Senator Charles E. Grassley on Monday backed down from a committee vote on Judge Kavanaugh's nomination planned for this Thursday and pushed a confirmation once seen as inevitable into limbo, reports The New York Times.
The hearing with Judge Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist in Northern California, sets up a potentially explosive public showdown that carries unmistakable echoes of the 1991 testimony of Anita Hill, who accused the future Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.
It will play out against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, which has energised Democratic women across the US, in an institution, the Senate, that is more than three-quarters male.
However, Trump vigorously defended his nominee on Monday, calling him an "outstanding" judge with an unblemished record, and dismissing the prospect that Kavanaugh might withdraw his nomination as "ridiculous".
"He is somebody very special; at the same time, we want to go through a process, we want to make sure everything is perfect, everything is just right," Trump told the media at the White House. "If it takes a little delay, it will take a little delay - it shouldn't certainly be very much."
The announcement on Monday comes a day after Ford came forward publicly, detailing her allegations in an exclusive interview to The Washington Post.
Ford said that in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend sexually abused her during a social gathering in Montgomery County. Kavanaugh on Monday issued a fresh denial of the allegations, which have roiled his confirmation process.
"I have never done anything like what the accuser describes - to her or to anyone," he said in a statement. "Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday."