2020 Dems Call for Kavanaugh's Impeachment After Flimsy NYT Story
On Saturday, The New York Times published an extremely flimsy, uncorroborated sexual-assault allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. On Sunday, the Times added a correction that undercut the story even further. Yet Democrats running for president in 2020 seized on the story, calling for Kavanaugh's impeachment.
The Times story made two claims that Democrats say bolstered the case against Kavanaugh: it claimed that other Yale students were chatting about the party at which Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted Deborah Ramirez (even though no one came forward to corroborate her story during the confirmation battle last year); and it tells a story from Max Stier, a former Clinton lawyer, who claimed to have witnessed Kavanaugh assaulting another woman at another party — but that alleged victim has denied the claims, and no one has corroborated Stier's story.
A long list of 2020 Democrats jumped on the story, calling for Kavanaugh's impeachment. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) seemed to be the first out of the gate.
"I sat through those hearings. Brett Kavanaugh lied to the U.S. Senate and most importantly to the American people," Harris tweeted Saturday. "He was put on the Court through a sham process and his place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice. He must be impeached."
"Last year the Kavanaugh nomination was rammed through the Senate without a thorough examination of the allegations against him," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) piled on. "Confirmation is not exoneration, and these newest revelations are disturbing. Like the man who appointed him, Kavanaugh should be impeached."
As for Warren's claim that there was no "thorough examination" of the allegations, it is entirely false. The Senate Judiciary Committee reached out to Ramirez's lawyers right after her original allegations were published, and the lawyers refused to provide evidence to back up her claims. The committee took many steps to investigate all of the allegations against Kavanaugh, but Democrats refused to join its efforts.
But I digress. Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) was next to join the impeachment train, after Kamala and Warren.
"Yesterday, we learned of another accusation against Brett Kavanaugh—one we didn't find out about before he was confirmed because the Senate forced the F.B.I. to rush its investigation to save his nomination. We know he lied under oath. He should be impeached," O'Rourke tweeted.
Fact check: The Max Stier allegation was not buried in the rush; Senate Democrats saw the allegation and chose not to air it, despite going public with other uncorroborated claims. Perhaps Democrats decided to bury this allegation because Stier was a Clinton lawyer. It is true that the FBI chose not to investigate the claim, but that may be due to the flimsy nature of the claim rather than due to the fast timetable for confirmation.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) did not explicitly endorse impeachment, but he did express support for "any constitutional mechanism to hold him accountable."
"As a federal judge who overwhelmingly sided with corporate power and Wall Street, Brett Kavanaugh should never have been nominated," Sanders tweeted. "Supreme Court justices are not above the law. Someone who sits in judgment over the nation should have the highest integrity. The revelations today confirm what we already knew: During his hearing, Kavanaugh faced credible accusations and likely lied to Congress. I support any appropriate constitutional mechanism to hold him accountable."
Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro suggested that allegations against Kavanaugh were not only corroborated but that Senate Republicans and the Trump administration knew it. Even if the Times' claim about students gossiping about the Ramirez allegation is true, it first came out in the Times article this weekend, not last year. As for Stier, his story was given to Senate Democrats, who buried it, not Senate Republicans. If Republicans knew a former Clinton lawyer had leveled uncorroborated allegations, do you think they would have kept that secret?
Yet Castro had the gall to tweet this: "Brett Kavanaugh, Senate Republicans, and the Trump administration knew about corroborating witnesses and additional allegations of his sexual abuse and kept them quiet. As I said yesterday, it’s clear he lied under oath and he must be impeached."
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) also piled on.
"This new allegation and additional corroborating evidence adds to a long list of reasons why Brett Kavanaugh should not be a Supreme Court justice. I stand with survivors and countless other Americans in calling for impeachment proceedings to begin," Booker tweeted.
Honorable mention: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has dropped out of the presidential race, but her call for impeachment investigations is still notable.
"I believed the accusations against Judge Kavanaugh then as I do now. I also believe that Kavanaugh knowingly lied to the Senate in his testimony. The House should begin formal impeachment investigations without any delay," she tweeted.
A few other 2020 Democrats weighed in without calling for impeachment or an impeachment investigation.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) urged her colleagues to wait for documents before starting such a process.
"I strongly oppose him, based on his views on the executive power which will continue to haunt our country, as well as how he behaved, including the allegations that we are hearing more about today. My concern here is that the process was a sham," she said on ABC's This Week. Yet she added, "I don't think you can look at impeachment hearings without getting the documents ... and the attorney general is shielding documents."
"We need to get to the bottom of whether the Trump Administration and Senate Republicans pressured the FBI to ignore evidence or prevented them from following up on leads relating to Justice Kavanaugh's background investigation," former Vice President Joe Biden, the current 2020 frontrunner, told CBS News in a statement.
Yes, it seems Democrats think it is a serious scandal that the FBI did not launch an investigation to probe uncorroborated claims of sexual assault leveled against Kavanaugh by a former rival — a lawyer for the Clintons during the Clinton impeachment, where Kavanaugh served on the other side. Perhaps they should have been a bit more circumspect, considering that the alleged victim denies any recollection of the assault.
Whichever Democrat wins the nomination will wear this as an albatross going into the general election. These Democrats propped up uncorroborated politically-motivated claims in an effort to smear a duly-appointed and confirmed Supreme Court justice.
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.