House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., signaled Monday that it is premature for his panel to consider impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the wake of a new allegation of sexual misconduct while a college student.
“We have to look into this a lot more before we can make that judgment,” Nadler said during an interview on a New York radio station when asked about calls for impeachment of Kavanaugh from several Democratic presidential contenders.
Nadler, whose committee also has jurisdiction over potential impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, said ongoing investigations into the president’s actions are a greater priority.
Nadler said that FBI Director Christopher Wray is already scheduled to testify before the judiciary panel next month and that lawmakers will question him about the “adequacy” of the FBI’s review of sexual assault allegations that emerged during Kavanaugh’s bitter confirmation battle last fall.
“We’re going to question the FBI director about this whole thing when he comes before our committee next month, and then we’ll make other determinations,” Nadler told WNYC radio. “Frankly, we are concentrating our resources on determining whether to impeach the President. Personally, I think the president ought to be impeached, but we have to concentrate on that for the next few months.”
Nadler’s comments about Trump went further than anything he has said publicly to date about the President’s fate.
Earlier Monday, Trump contended that Kavanaugh was the one “being assaulted.”
Taking to Twitter, Trump reacted to a segment on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” about a significant clarification to an initial New York Times report that included the new allegation that Kavanaugh exposed himself to a female classmate at a drunken dorm party years ago at Yale University.
As initially published, the report, which was labeled a news analysis and adapted from a forthcoming book, did not mention that the woman involved in the alleged incident has told friends that she does not recall it.
In his tweet, Trump quoted a “Fox & Friends” headline, saying, “The New York Times walks back report on Kavanaugh assault claim.”
“The one who is actually being assaulted is Justice Kavanaugh — Assaulted by lies and Fake News!” Trump wrote in his own voice. “This is all about the LameStream Media working with their partner, the Dems.”
Trump has rallied to Kavanaugh’s defense since the publication of the Times report on Saturday, tweeting that Kavanaugh “should start suing people for libel” and pushing back on Democrats who have called for the justice’s impeachment.
“DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT THESE HORRIBLE PEOPLE WILL DO OR SAY,” Trump wrote on Monday.” They are looking to destroy, and influence his opinions — but played the game badly. They should be sued!”
According to the Times report, a college classmate, Max Stier, said he saw Kavanaugh with his pants down at the party, where friends pushed Kavanaugh’s genital into a young woman’s hand. Stier notified senators and the FBI before Kavanaugh’s confirmation last year, but the FBI did not investigate, the Times reported.
The Times report was based on interviews with “two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier.”
In an editor’s note after initial publication, the Times said that the book on which the report was based noted that “the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident.”
“That information has been added to the article,” the note said.
The Washington Post reported Monday that Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., alerted the FBI of the allegation at issue but that it was not investigated.
Coons wrote to FBI director Christopher Wray on Oct. 2, requesting an “appropriate follow up” with one individual who had come to Coons with information about Kavanaugh. Although the person’s name was redacted in the one-page letter, a spokesman for Coons confirmed Monday that the individual was Stier, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale University who now leads a prominent nonpartisan group in Washington.
In the letter obtained by The Washington Post, Coons said “several individuals” who wanted to share information with federal authorities had contacted his office, but they had had “difficulty reaching anyone who will collect their information.”
Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court in the fall after a confirmation fight that included testimony from Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were high school students in the 1980s.
Kavanaugh strenuously denied Ford’s claim, calling it an “orchestrated political hit.”
The new claim echoes an allegation made by a different female Yale student, Deborah Ramirez, during Kavanaugh’s confirmation process. Kavanaugh has denied that allegation.
In a tweet Monday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway took aim at Democratic presidential candidates for using the new allegation to call for Kavanaugh’s impeachment.
Conway said such calls were “a stunt to divert from sagging poll numbers & socialist ideas.”
Democrats calling for Kavanaugh’s impeachment have expressed concerns not only with his alleged conduct years ago but that he may have lied about his actions during his confirmation hearing last year.
One of the contenders singled out by Conway, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., sought to make the case for Kavanaugh’s impeachment during an interview that aired Monday morning on NPR.
Harris, a former prosecutor, said it was not necessary for the woman involved in the new allegation to remember the episode.
“The fact that someone does not remember the details of that incident doesn’t mean that there’s a lack of evidence if there are other witnesses who can establish that the fact occurred,” Harris said. “And so I wouldn’t say there’s no evidence. It is also, I must say, very normal for someone especially someone who has been the subject of this kind of behavior to not be clear on the details.”