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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

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

3 hours ago - World

Olaf Scholz sworn in as German chancellor, succeeding Merkel

Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sworn in by Bundestag President Bärbel Bas in Berlin today. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz was sworn in as chancellor of Germany on Wednesday, succeeding Angela Merkel after 16 years and launching a new era of German and European politics.

Why it matters: Scholz, a center-left pragmatist who served as finance minister and vice chancellor in Merkel's last government, will lead Europe's largest economy in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats.