Washington: Conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the US Supreme Court appeared all-but-certain in the wake of Senate hearings in early September, but sexual assault allegations from the 1980s now threaten to derail the process at the last moment.
Here is a timeline of the main events around the accusations:
Suggestion of 'misconduct'
On September 12, less than a week after Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings wrapped up in Washington, Dianne Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced she had forwarded to the FBI "information from an individual concerning the nomination."
The New York Times said the information concerned "possible sexual misconduct" dating to the 1980s, when the 53-year-old Kavanaugh was in high school.
The White House denounced what it called a last-minute effort to prevent his confirmation.
Allegation of assault
The New Yorker reported two days later, on September 14, that an unidentified woman had accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during a high school party in Bethesda, Maryland, near Washington, in the early 1980s.
The magazine quoted the judge as saying in a statement, "I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time."
Accuser comes forward
On September 16, Kavanaugh's accuser came forward publicly, revealing her identity as 51-year-old university professor Christine Blasey Ford, and giving a detailed account of the alleged incident to The Washington Post.
She claimed Kavanaugh and a friend, Mark Judge, assaulted her while both "stumbling drunk." Kavanaugh, she said, pinned her to a bed and muffled her cries as he tried to pull off her clothes, before she fought him off and escaped. Blasey Ford confirmed she was the one who sent the confidential letter to Feinstein.
Trump hits back
After days of relative restraint, President Donald Trump took direct aim at Blasley Ford on September 21, openly questioning her credibility.
"Why didn't someone call the FBI 36 years ago?" Trump tweeted.
"I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents."
A second accusation
On September 23, after several days of negotiations with the Senate Judiciary Committee, Blasey Ford agreed to testify publicly, with a hearing scheduled for September 27.
The same day, The New Yorker published a bombshell account from a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, 53, who said Kavanaugh exposed himself and caused her to touch him without consent, during a drinking game at a Yale dorm party in the 1980s.
The judge rejected the claim as part of a campaign of "last-minute smears, pure and simple."
In a further twist, Michael Avenatti -- the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she once had a tryst with Trump -- announced he was representing a third unidentified woman with "credible information" regarding both Kavanaugh and Judge.
On September 24, Kavanaugh went on the counterattack against what he called an "effort to destroy my good name."
"I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process," he vowed in a letter to the Senate committee.
In a prime-time interview on Fox News, Kavanaugh appeared alongside his wife, Ashley Kavanaugh, to defend himself.
Seeking to counter the image of a wild youth painted by his accusers, he asserted he was a virgin at the time of the alleged events, and "did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter."
Trump meanwhile denounced the accusations as part of a political "con game" by opposition Democrats. On September 25, the president hit out at Ramirez, Kavanaugh's second accuser, as "messed up."
"The second accuser has nothing. She thinks maybe it could have been him, maybe not," Trump said. "She admits that she was drunk. She admits that there are time lapses."
With two days to go until Blasey Ford's testimony to lawmakers on September 27, the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a preliminary vote on Kavanaugh's nomination for the following day, September 28.
The committee also announced that Blasey Ford would be questioned by an expert sex crimes prosecutor.
A new witness -- and victim
On September 26, Michael Avenatti released a sworn statement from Julie Swetnick, saying she witnessed abusive behaviour by Kavanaugh and Judge during high school parties in the early 1980s. She said she herself had been the victim of a gang rape in 1982 during a party that Kavanaugh attended.
Kavanaugh forcefully rejected the latest allegations, in a statement released by the White House.
"This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don't know who this is and this never happened."...