Sep 17, 2019

First look: Harris asks for Kavanaugh investigation

Photos: Win McNamee/Getty Images; Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris is asking House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler to form an outside task force to investigate the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh and whether he lied to Congress during his testimony, according to a letter first given to Axios.

Why it matters: Nadler and others on the committee have poured cold water on the idea of investigating Kavanaugh because they're instead focused on impeaching President Trump. But Harris argues that an outside task force could allow Democrats to answer the growing calls for Kavanaugh's impeachment and also investigate the president.

  • "I understand that the House Judiciary Committee has limited resources and many other responsibilities," Harris writes in her letter. "However, in the past, congressional committees have dedicated resources and established structures to pursue serious cases of misconduct — including by creating a task force and retaining outside counsel to help lead impeachment inquiries."
  • "The House Judiciary Committee should pursue whatever form of investigation best suits its work and competing demands," she writes, "but Mr. Kavanaugh’s appointment to a lifetime seat on our highest court warrants a similarly rigorous approach."

Nadler said on WNYC earlier this week that "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."

  • Harris and at least five other 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have called for his impeachment, as have others in Congress.

The backstory:

  • This weekend, the New York Times published a piece that included new details of an allegation about Kavanaugh's behavior toward a female student at a party. (The piece has been criticized after the Times added an editor's note acknowledging that the original article didn't note that the student declined to be interviewed and friends say she doesn't remember the incident.)
  • Harris is asking the committee's task force to investigate four questions, relating to the FBI's previous investigation into Kavanaugh; whether he lied during his Senate confirmation process; and to gather more information about the alleged sexual assault from various witnesses like Kavanaugh's former Yale roommate and the 25 witnesses provided by Deborah Ramirez.
  • The letter refers to a 2008 case in which the House gave the Judiciary Committee the ability to form a task force, which was led by an outside counsel, to conduct an impeachment investigation into U.S. District Judge Thomas Porteous.

The bottom line, from Harris: Kavanaugh has a lifetime appointment, the legitimacy of SCOTUS is at stake here, and "we must protect the integrity of our justice system."

Go deeper: Read Harris' full letter here.

Go deeper

Ayanna Pressley to introduce legislation for Kavanaugh impeachment inquiry

Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) is set to introduce legislation Tuesday demanding impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after a weekend report expanded allegations of sexual misconduct against him, The Hill reports.

  • "Sexual predators do not deserve a seat on the nation’s highest court and Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process set a dangerous precedent," Pressley said in a statement. "We must demand justice for survivors and hold Kavanaugh accountable for his actions."
Go deeperArrowSep 17, 2019

Nadler slams White House for blocking testimonies and limiting Lewandowski

Jerry Nadler. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler slammed the White House Monday for blocking 2 former aides from testifying before the committee and placing "unprecedented limitations" on former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski ahead of his appearance Tuesday.

Why it matters: The House Judiciary Committee is trying to step up investigations in order to determine whether to recommend Trump’s impeachment for obstruction of justice and abuse of power.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 17, 2019

How an impeachment inquiry works

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on September 19, 2019. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday that the House will open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump, in the aftermath of reports that he pressured Ukraine's president to investigate political rival Joe Biden.

The big picture: After months of what House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler described as "formal impeachment proceedings" — or months of subpoenas and committee investigations — House Democrats are officially taking the plunge.

Go deeperArrowSep 25, 2019