Politics

Democrats are focused on impeaching Trump, not Kavanaugh, Nadler says

Key Points
  • House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. said on Monday that his committee is unlikely to impeach Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
  • "We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now, and that's going to take up our limited resources and time for a while," Nadler said during an interview on WNYC's "The Brian Lehrer Show."
  • Presidential candidates such as Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris have called for Kavanaugh's impeachment following a report of a previously undisclosed allegation against him.
Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) speaks to the media in New York, May 29, 2019.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said Monday that his committee is unlikely to impeach Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh despite pleas to do some from presidential candidates Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.

"We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now, and that's going to take up our limited resources and time for a while," Nadler said during an interview on WNYC's "The Brian Lehrer Show."

Warren and Harris, as well as former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, called for Kavanaugh to be impeached over the weekend after a report in The New York Times surfaced a previously unreported allegation of sexual misconduct against the justice.

President Donald Trump and others criticized the article on Monday morning after the Times updated it to note that the friends of the alleged victim said that she did not recall the incident. That fact had not been included in the original story.

Nadler said he didn't know if the new allegation merited impeachment, but suggested the committee will not be looking into the question urgently.

"Frankly, we are concentrating our resources on determining whether to impeach the president. Personally, I think the president ought to be impeached, but we have to concentrate on that for the next few months," Nadler said.

He said his committee was focused on the investigation conducted by the FBI into the allegations during the nomination process last year. Democrats plan to ask FBI Director Christopher Wray about that inquiry when he appears before the Judiciary Committee next month, Nadler said.

"We are going to start looking into the adequacy of the investigation upon which the confirmation was premised," Nadler said.

Nadler noted that for purposes of impeachment, lying under oath is more relevant than the alleged sexual misconduct.

"These deeds that he did years ago would be very relevant to a senator voting for or against his nomination, but once he's there, what's relevant now is whether he lied to the Senate," Nadler said.

Nadler did say his committee was continuing to seek out Kavanaugh's White House records from his time serving under President George W. Bush. Last month, Nadler sent a letter to the National Archives seeking those records. While the letter made no mention of making the documents available to the public, Nadler suggested Monday that is his intention.

"We are going to get that information, and make it available so people can see whether — I don't know this to be the case, but whether there is information there that would have been publicly disqualifying for the appointment, or not," he said.

On Tuesday, Nadler's committee will hold a hearing that the New York Democrat has said he designated a presidential impeachment hearing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has shied away from saying Democrats are pursuing impeachment.

It is extremely rare for Supreme Court justices to be impeached. According to the court's website, the last and only time it happened was with Justice Samuel Chase in 1805. Chase was ultimately acquitted.

Correction: Rep. Jerrold Nadler last month sent a letter to the National Archives seeking Kavanaugh's White House records. An earlier version misidentified who made the request.

VIDEO1:2901:29
Dozens of ‘serious’ complaints against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh are dismissed