Sep 28, 2018

Avenatti wants “full” FBI Kavanaugh probe to be 2020 litmus test

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Potential 2020 presidential candidate Michael Avenatti is calling for a "full and complete FBI investigation" into Brett Kavanaugh, with impeachment on the line, to become a 2020 litmus test for Democrats.

Why it matters: Jeff Flake just became the first Senate Republican to call for an FBI investigation, but on a more limited scale — and with no mention of impeachment. The only Supreme Court justice to ever be successfully impeached by the House was Samuel Chase, who was appointed by George Washington. The Senate failed to convict.

Background: In light of our reporting that Democrats are already privately talking about the impeachment of Brett Kavanaugh as a 2020 campaign issue, I asked Avenatti today whether he thought impeachment should be a litmus test.

Avenatti’s response: 

  • “I did take the lead on my belief that the court should be expanded” to 11 justices, “and if he’s confirmed I absolutely believe that should be a litmus test” for 2020 Democratic Party candidates for president.
  • “Because I believe that would be two individuals that were placed on the court,” Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, “that never belonged on the court.”
  • “I think the expansion to 11 should be a litmus test and I think the other litmus test should be a full and complete FBI investigation, and if it is shown that Brett Kavanaugh perjured himself or committed any of these acts, he absolutely should be removed from the Supreme Court."

The big picture: Democrats are dividing between "responsible restorationists," who seek a return to pre-Trump rules and norms, and "ruthless radicals" who want to go scorched earth to take down Trump.

  • Avenatti is the tip of the spear, and is energizing Democratic audiences wherever he speaks, though several senior Democratic officials have told me they find his attention-seeking approach reckless and unhelpful. 

Go deeper: 2020 Dems: Rebels v. restorationists

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Trump says he will campaign against Lisa Murkowski after her support for Mattis

Trump with Barr and Meadows outside St. John's Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. on June 1. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would endorse "any candidate" with a pulse who runs against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Driving the news: Murkowski said on Thursday that she supported former defense secretary James Mattis' condemnation of Trump over his response to protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing. She described Mattis' statement as "true, honest, necessary and overdue," Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports.

7 hours ago - World

The president vs. the Pentagon

Trump visits Mattis and the Pentagon in 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

Over the course of just a few hours, President Trump was rebuffed by the Secretary of Defense over his call for troops in the streets and accused by James Mattis, his former Pentagon chief, of trampling the Constitution for political gain.

Why it matters: Current and former leaders of the U.S. military are drawing a line over Trump's demand for a militarized response to the protests and unrest that have swept the country over the killing of George Floyd by police.

New York Times says Tom Cotton op-ed did not meet standards

Photo: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A New York Times spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the paper will be changing its editorial board processes after a Wednesday op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), which called for President Trump to "send in the troops" in order to quell violent protests, failed to meet its standards.

Why it matters: The shift comes after Times employees began a coordinated movement on social media on Wednesday and Thursday that argued that publishing the op-ed put black staff in danger. Cotton wrote that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act in order to deploy the U.S. military against rioters that have overwhelmed police forces in cities across the country.