US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has said he would be willing to “refute” a sexual assault allegation before a Senate panel.
Mr Kavanaugh made the remark after the accused, Christine Blasey Ford, said via her attorney that she was ready to testify in public.
It comes as the US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday that the FBI should reopen its background investigation into President Donald Trump’s pick for Supreme Court judge.
He added that a planned vote on Mr Kavanaugh’s nomination should be put on hold while the investigation takes place.
Mr Schumer told ABC’s The View: “Trying to rush this through on Thursday is an insult to the women of America and an insult to the majesty of the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Dr Ford’s attorney general Debra S Katz said her client considered the incident to be an attempted rape.
Mrs Katz told NBC’s Today: “She believes that if were not for the severe intoxication of Brett Kavanaugh, she would have been raped.”
She also denied that Dr Ford, a Democrat, is politically motivated.
Republican senators have expressed concern over the allegation that Mr Kavanaugh groped Dr Ford and tried to take her clothes off at a party when she was 15 and he was 17.
The accused told the Washington Post that Mr Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed at a Maryland party in the early 1980s, clumsily tried to remove her clothing and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream.
Dr Ford, 51, a clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, said: “I thought he might inadvertently kill me.
“He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Mr Kavanaugh attended a private school for boys in Maryland while Dr Ford attended a nearby school.
Sixty-five women who knew Mr Kavanaugh in high school have defended him in a letter, circulated by Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans, as someone who “always treated women with decency and respect”.
Mr Kavanaugh, 53, has released a statement calling the allegation against him “completely false”.
He added: “I have never done anything like what the accuser describes, to her or to anyone.
“Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday.
“I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.”
President Donald Trump’s eldest son has appeared to mock Dr Ford’s sexual assault allegation.
Donald Trump Jr posted an image on Instagram on Monday with the caption “Judge Kavanaugh sexual assault letter found by Dems…”
The photo attached shows a crumpled-up piece of notebook paper with a scribbled message: “Hi Cindy will you be my girlfriend, Love Bret.”
The note has boxes to check for “yes” or “no” and seems to compare Mr Kavanaugh’s accuser to a school yard crush.
The judge was seen arriving at the White House on Monday morning but there was no immediate explanation of the reason for his visit.
He had been on a smooth confirmation track to be Supreme Court Judge, but the new allegations have disrupted the process.
Stressing that Mr Kavanaugh had already testified and undergone FBI background checks, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said: “I think you have to weigh this testimonial evidence from Dr Ford and Judge Kavanaugh along with the considerable body of evidence that is already there about the judge’s temperament and qualifications and character.”
In morning television interviews, Mrs Katz said her client was willing to tell her story in public to the judiciary panel, although no politicians or their aides had yet contacted her.
Initially the sexual misconduct allegation was conveyed in a private letter without revealing Dr Ford’s name.
The accusation has raised the prospect of congressional Republicans defending Mr Trump’s nominee ahead of mid-term elections.
Critics have already accused the party of fast-tracking the process to get Mr Kavanaugh on the court by 1 October, the first day of the autumn term.
Republicans say the allegations have already cast a shadow over Mr Kavanaugh but that it does not appear to be enough to change the votes in the narrowly divided 51 – 49 Senate.