New York man arrested for threatening to kill two US senators over backing Brett Kavanaugh

Dan Mangan
Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Tuesday signaled a possible break with his fellow conservative Supreme Court justices during a dramatic day of oral argument in a high-stakes death penalty case.

A New York man was arrested Friday morning for allegedly threatening to assault and kill two U.S. senators because of their support for the successful nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

The man, Long Island resident Ronald DeRisi, phoned in his threats to the offices of the senators, according to a federal complaint lodged against him.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, which is prosecuting the man, did not identify the senators who were threatened.

The arrest comes two days after the husband of Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said he received a threatening letter that referred to Collins' support for Kanvanaugh, and which claimed to be tainted with the deadly toxin ricin.

Tests showed there was no danger from the letter, but Collins' husband, Thomas Daffron, and the couple's Labrador retriever, Pepper, were quarantined before the test results.

The person responsible for the letter to Daffron has not been apprehended.

The man charged with the phone call threats to the senators was due to appear before a federal judge in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, N.Y., on Friday afternoon.

Kavanaugh was narrowly confirmed to the Supreme Court in a 50-48 vote, almost exclusively along party lines, in the Senate on Oct. 6, and was sworn in as a justice hours later.

His nomination by President Donald Trump had suffered a nearly fatal blow in September, when a woman named Christine Blasey Ford accused him of trying to rape her in the early 1980 at a small get-together of several fellow high school students. Two other women soon after came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct in high school and in college at Yale.

Kavanaugh adamantly denied the allegations.

Before he was confirmed, and even before the sexual misconduct allegations emerged, Collins was seen as one of a handful of Republican senators who might vote against Kavanaugh.

But later announced her intention to vote for him in a lengthy speech on the Senate floor. Collins said she believed Ford had been assaulted, but said she did not believe that Kavanaugh was the attacker.

Collins on Oct. 7 told the CBS News show "Face the Nation" that her vote for Kavanaugh was "a tough one."

"I have to do what I think is right. Over the years, the people of Maine have trusted me to exercise my best judgment. That's what I did in the case," Collins said.