United States Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday testified before a Senate committee and denied a university professor’s accusation that he sexually assaulted her 36 years ago. Calling himself a victim of “grotesque and obvious character assassination”, Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he will not be intimidated into withdrawing from the nomination process.

His testimony came soon after the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, testified before the committee. Ford was the first of three women who accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault. Ford said the incident took place when both were high school students in Maryland. She said Kavanaugh had tried to rape her, during which he put his hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming in a way she feared he would accidentally kill her.

In his testimony, Kavanaugh, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump, claimed that they were never in a room together. “I categorically and unequivocally deny the allegation by Dr Ford,” Kavanaugh said, according to AFP. “I have never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not in college, not ever. I am innocent of this charge.”

Kavanaugh said his Senate confirmation process was a “national disgrace”. He claimed that the allegations against him were a “calculated and orchestrated political hit” by Democratic Senators. He said he was not surprised that other allegations of sexual misconduct had followed after Ford went public with her claims. “My family and my name have been permanently destroyed by vicious and false accusations,” Kavanaugh said.

The judiciary committee will hold a vote on Friday on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Republicans hold an 11-10 majority on the committee. The Senate, where the Republicans have a 51-49 majority, is likely to vote on his nomination on Saturday.

President Donald Trump reiterated his support for Kavanaugh and praised his testimony in the Senate. “Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him,” Trump said on Twitter. “His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting. Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!”

Trump has himself been accused of molesting multiple women after a video had surfaced showing him boasting about forcing himself on women.