US President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh has said that he "never sexually assaulted anyone" and always treated women with dignity and respect, as he sought a fair process to defend his "integrity" over the mounting sexual misconduct allegations that have put his confirmation into jeopardy.
"I have never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not ever. I have always treated women with dignity and respect," Kavanaugh said on Monday as he broke his long silence on the issue.
"Listen to the people who have known me best through my whole life, the women who have known me since high school, the 65 who overnight signed a letter from high school, saying I always treated them with dignity and respect...," he told Fox News as he gave his first interview along with his wife.
"I am looking for a fair process, a process where I can defend my integrity and clear my name. And all I am asking for is fairness and that I'd be heard in this process," Kavanaugh, 53, said.
Kavanaugh and his first accuser 51-year-old Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, are scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
The Democrats are asking for an FBI investigation into the incident, which so far has been stonewalled by the Republicans and President Trump.
"This is an allegation about a party in the summer of 1982 at a house near Connecticut Avenue and East-West Highway with five people present. I was never at any such party," Kavanaugh said.
"The other people who were alleged to be present have said they do not remember any such party. A woman who was present, another woman who was present, who is Dr Ford's lifelong friend, has said she does not know me and never remembers being at a party with me at any time in her life. All I am asking for is a fair process where I can be heard," he added.
President Trump continues to support the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh. He has questioned the motives of the Democrats in raising this issue.
Trump has also questioned the credibility of Ford, contending that if the alleged attack was so bad then she would have reported it to the law enforcement when the incident happened 36 years ago.
"I never had any sexual or physical activity with Dr Ford," Kavanaugh said, adding, "What I know is the truth. And the truth is, I have never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise".
"I am 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 have never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or at any time in my life," he said.
Earlier in the day, Trump hoped that his Supreme Court nominee would soon be confirmed.
"We hope he is going to be confirmed. He is a fine, fine man. A great scholar and great at everything he has ever done. And it would be sad, indeed, if something happened to reroute that. This is a fine man. And we certainly hope he is going to be confirmed, and quickly," Trump told reporters in New York.
"His family has suffered. What is going on is not something that should happen. Brett Kavanaugh is an absolutely outstanding person. Hopefully, he will be confirmed quickly," the US president said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also came out in Kavanaugh's defense.
"Senate Democrats and their allies are trying to destroy a man's personal and professional life on the basis of decades-old allegations that are unsubstantiated and uncorroborated. That is where we are. This is what the so-called 'Resistance' has become. A smear campaign, pure and simple. Aided and abetted by members of the United States Senate," he said on the Senate floor.
Justice Kavanaugh is the second judge to be nominated by Trump on the nine-member US Supreme Court. Trump's first nominee Judge Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate on April 7, 2017.
Unlike India, where Supreme Court judges have a retiring age, the judges of the US Supreme Court are appointed for life. As a result, all the nominations to the apex bench have long-term implications - mostly generational.
For instance, Judge Clarence Thomas, who was nominated by George H W Bush, has been a Supreme Court judge for nearly 27 years and Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was nominated by the then president Bill Clinton, has served on the bench for over 25 years. Judge Stephen Breyer, also nominated by Clinton, has been a Supreme Court judge for over 24 years now.