US President Donald Trump has said the sex assault claims made against his new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh were a “hoax” and “all made up”.
The Republican president condemned Democratic calls to impeach the judge as an “insult to the American public”.
The Democratic leadership has distanced itself from the calls by two of its rank-and-file lawmakers.
Mr Trump joined Mr Kavanaugh and his family as the new justice swore an oath at the White House on Monday.
President Trump hailed the “momentous” occasion, and started the ceremony by apologising to Mr Kavanaugh and his family for the “campaign of personal and political destruction based on lies and destruction” that he had been subjected to.
The judge was confirmed by the Senate on Saturday, in a 50-48 vote that largely followed partisan lines.
What did President Trump say?
As he left the White House for an event in Florida on Monday, Mr Trump said: “So I’ve been hearing that now they’re thinking about impeaching a brilliant jurist.
“A man that did nothing wrong, a man that was caught up in a hoax that was set up by the Democrats using the Democrats’ lawyers and now they want to impeach him.”
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He added: “I think it’s an insult to the American public.”
The allegations against the nominee were “all made up, it was fabricated and it was a disgrace,” Mr Trump said.
Speaking at a police convention in Orlando later, the president said the allegations against the justice were “brought about by people that are evil”. It was unclear if he was referring to the accusers, their lawyers or Democratic lawmakers.
Immediately following Prof Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony last month about her alleged assault to the Senate, Mr Trump called her a “compelling” witness.
But he later questioned her credibility and mocked her at a rally.
Mr Trump says Democrats will lose in the 6 November congressional elections, which will shape the remainder of his presidency.
Where is Justice Kavanaugh?
The 53-year-old justice was sworn in on Saturday evening in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court.
He will take his seat on Tuesday – on the far right of the bench, next to Justice Elena Kagan – hearing immigration and other cases.
Justice Kavanaugh has followed up on his pledge to hire women to serve as his law clerks, becoming the first justice to have an all-female staff.
What about Christine Blasey Ford?
Prof Ford – who said the judge sexually assaulted her at a house party in 1982 when they were high school students – has been unable to move back home because of “unending” death threats, according to one of her lawyers.
Lawyer Debra Katz told MSNBC: “It’s going to be quite some time before they’re able to live at home.
“The threats have been unending.
“It’s deplorable. It’s been very frightening.”
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Do Democrats want to impeach Justice Kavanaugh?
A handful of Democratic lawmakers, including congressmen Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Ted Lieu of California, have pressed for Justice Kavanaugh’s removal.
But top Democrat Nancy Pelosi has said trying to impeach the new justice “would not be my plan”.
“Let’s take it one day at a time,” she said last week. “We are not about impeachment.”
Senator Chris Coons told NBC: “I think that’s premature… Folks who feel very strongly one way or other about the issues in front of us should get out and vote.”
A petition to impeach Justice Kavanaugh has more than 150,000 signatures.
Samuel Chase in 1804 was the only justice to be impeached by the House. He was acquitted by the Senate the following year.
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Is Justice Kavanaugh off the hook?
On Saturday, Nancy Pelosi announced she will file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to make public a confidential FBI investigation into the claims against Justice Kavanaugh.
Democrat Jerrold Nadler, who is in line to chair the House Judiciary Committee if his party wins a majority in the mid-terms, said that he would be prepared to open an investigation into the top judge.
Mr Nadler did not address the impeachment question, telling the New York Times the investigation would look into whether Senate Republicans had “whitewashed” the FBI inquiry.
Justice Kavanaugh also faces more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints over his public statements as a nominee to the Supreme Court.
And the American Bar Association has reopened its evaluation of Justice Kavanaugh’s temperament.