As the political fight over the sexual assault allegation made against Brett Kavanaugh intensifies, Democrats are indicating that -- even if confirmed -- they intend to drag the fight over his Supreme Court nomination past November, raising the possibility of an impeachment push.
Democrats have been demanding the vote to confirm Kavanaugh be delayed pending a full FBI investigation into the accusation by Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party in high school in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the allegations and has said he is willing to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Republicans on the committee have invited Ford to testify next week, and have said that they will hold a vote to confirm Kavanaugh if she does not. Ford has said she will testify, but only if a list of conditions are met. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has given Ford a Saturday deadline to say whether she will testify.
The midterm elections loom over the debate over the timetable of Kavanaugh’s confirmation process. Should Democrats succeed in delaying the confirmation vote past November and pick up seats in the Senate in the midterms, then they will likely have enough votes to block Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
However, if Republicans confirm Kavanaugh before November, Democrats have indicated that the fight would not be over are raising the prospect of further investigations and even impeachment.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said that “as soon as Democrats get gavels”, the party will investigate the Kavanaugh allegations even if he is confirmed and sitting on the Supreme Court.
“This is such bad practice that even if they were to ram this guy through, as soon as Democrats get gavels we’re going to want to get to the bottom of this,” he said on CNN.
When pressed as to whether he was saying Democrats would investigate a sitting Supreme Court justice, Whitehouse said he was “confident of that.”
“And I think we’ll also be investigating why the FBI stood down its background investigation when this came up in this particular background,” he said.
His stance was backed up by Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif, who said in an interview with Fox News that there could not only be an investigation, but a push for impeachment.
“If the Republicans rush through a nominee where you have unanswered sexual assault allegations, I can promise you that Democratic senators will be interested in going and looking at those allegations, and if Judge Kavanaugh lied under oath, you could see a judicial impeachment, and that’s not good for anybody, so we should try and avoid that,” he said on “America’s Newsroom.”
Such a move would require a majority in the House of Representatives, something that a number of pollsters are predicting the Democrats will secure in November.
But, in an article for The New York Times titled “The Case for Impeaching Kavanaugh,” Alabama Law School Professor Ronald Krotoszynski Jr. notes that such a move would need a 2/3rd vote in the Senate -- something extremely unlikely unless a number of Republicans joined Democrats.
However, Krotoszynski Jr. argues that Democrats should proceed with an investigation “if the Senate won’t conduct a credible investigation now.”
“The House Democratic leadership should pledge now that if they win a majority, they will conduct an impeachment investigation, to get to the truth. Doing so today would make clear to the Senate Republicans that if they rush to judgment, in the absence of a full and fair investigation, there will still be an investigation,” he said.
However, former communication strategist for Justice Neil Gorsuch Ron Bonjean warned that such a push by Democrats could backfire and rile up the conservative base for the midterms.
I think that would just fire up the conservative base big time and...conservative voters wouldn’t like that and they’d be pretty fired up going into the November elections, that’s for sure,” he said on Fox Business’ “After The Bell.”
“Look, once he’s on the Supreme Court it’s going to be very difficult to get him out of there and there could be another opening on the court sometime in the near future,” he added. “So I think that’s a lot of happy talk and you’d really have to have conclusive evidence in order to get that, plus you’d have to get that through Congress and I just can’t see that happening.”