Kavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw

An aggressive push by progressives to impeach Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughHere are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Supreme Court denies Trump request to immediately resume federal executions House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law MORE is falling flat on Capitol Hill.

A coalition of House Democrats, 2020 presidential candidates and influential outside groups is trying to build momentum for ousting Kavanaugh in the aftermath of a new sexual misconduct allegation against him.


Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleySanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire Booker unveils legislation for federal bill to ban discrimination against natural hair House approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump MORE (D-Mass.) introduced a resolution Tuesday calling for an impeachment inquiry after The New York Times reported over the weekend that a former Yale University classmate alleged Kavanaugh exposed himself at a college party and that other students pushed Kavanaugh’s genitals into the hand of a female student.

“This is the reckoning, and gone are the days where we will be complicit and lackadaisical in the fact that this is an epidemic and survivors deserve healing and justice and everyone deserves due process,” Pressley said during an interview with CNN.

But Democratic leaders are signaling they want nothing to do with the impeachment chatter, which comes as they are already trying to juggle a simmering fight over the impeachment of President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE within their own ranks and getting a stopgap funding bill through Congress by the end of next week.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP MORE (D-N.Y.) sidestepped when asked Tuesday about efforts to impeach Kavanaugh, noting that he had opposed Trump’s pick during last year’s months-long confirmation brawl.

“I’ve said this before: Very simply, I never thought Kavanaugh should be on the bench, and I still don’t today,” Schumer told reporters when asked if he thought the House should launch an impeachment investigation.

Asked by The Washington Post if she sees the House spending time on the new Kavanaugh allegations, House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing White House, Democrats strike tentative deal to create Space Force in exchange for federal parental leave benefits: report Trump: Fox News 'panders' to Democrats by having on liberal guests MORE (D-Calif.) replied: "No." 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Trump: Fox News 'panders' to Democrats by having on liberal guests Democrats express confidence in case as impeachment speeds forward MORE (D-N.Y.) was equally cool to questions about impeaching Kavanaugh during a New York radio interview this week, effectively icing any action until next month when FBI Director Christopher Wray is scheduled to testify before the Judiciary panel.

“It’s too early to form a judgment one way or another. We’re going to start looking into this; we’re going to start with the FBI director coming in front of us next month. And we have our hands full with impeaching the president right now,” Nadler told WNYC.

The lukewarm reception puts Democratic leadership at odds with several of the party’s 2020 presidential candidates, who immediately called for impeachment or an investigation following the New York Times report.

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden: 'I'd add' Warren to my list of potential VP picks Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades How can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSunday shows — Nadler: A jury would convict Trump in 'three minutes flat' Booker on Harris dropping out: 'Iowa voters should have the right to choose' Booker campaign rakes in million after Harris exits 2020 race MORE (D-Calif.), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegBiden: Buttigieg 'doesn't have significant black support even in his own city' Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades Biden rallies with John Kerry in early primary states MORE have each said they support impeaching Kavanaugh.

And they’re backed by a coalition of groups that are clamoring for House Democrats to take action, arguing Kavanaugh is “unfit” for the Supreme Court and that he lied during his Senate testimony last year.

“At this point, an impeachment inquiry in the House is the only appropriate way to conduct the fact-finding that Senate Republicans refused to conduct,” progressive groups Demand Justice, Women’s March and Center for Popular Democracy said in a joint statement.

The New York Times piece marked the latest point of conflict since Trump nominated Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court last year after Justice Anthony Kennedy stepped down in the summer of 2018.

Kavanaugh faced accusations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct ahead of his confirmation, prompting senators to take the unprecedented step of having Kavanaugh and his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and delaying his nomination so the FBI could conduct a supplemental background investigation. 

Kavanaugh has denied any wrongdoing.

Democrats slammed the weeklong FBI investigation, arguing the agency was limited by guidelines established by the White House and Senate Republicans. But, in the end, Kavanaugh was narrowly confirmed last year with support from every Republican except Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHere are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Senate confirms eight Trump court picks in three days The Hill's Morning Report - Dem impeachment report highlights phone records MORE (Alaska). Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinStatesmen seek bipartisan solutions to big challenges Both sides have reason to want speedy Trump impeachment trial No one wins with pro-abortion litmus test MORE (W.Va.) was the only Democrat to vote for him.

Some Democrats warned on Tuesday that it’s time to move on, noting that an impeachment effort would face a GOP buzz saw even if it got through the House.

“We should be focused on making sure this never, ever happens again. We need a functional background investigation process from the FBI,” said Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyHere are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Democratic senator says he knows 'handful' of GOP colleagues considering vote to remove Trump Both sides have reason to want speedy Trump impeachment trial MORE (Conn.), a liberal Democratic senator. “I think it’s highly unlikely you’re going to get an impeachment vote through the United States Senate, so our best remedy may just be trying to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Asked if he would support impeachment, he responded by saying, “My feelings on Kavanaugh are pretty public. I just think we need to understand what’s realistic here.”

Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseTrump brings pardoned soldiers on stage at Florida fundraiser: report Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows bold action to counter 'existential' climate threat | Trump jokes new light bulbs don't make him look as good | 'Forever chemicals' measure pulled from defense bill Pelosi warns of 'existential' climate threat, vows bold action MORE (D-R.I.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned that House Democrats pushing for impeachment were getting ahead of themselves.

“We seem to have a habit of wanting to get to the verdict before we’ve gathered the evidence. I don’t, as a former prosecutor, approve of that habit,” he said.


Senate Republicans and others in the party have rushed to defend Kavanaugh after The New York Times story and tried to paint the impeachment calls as another sign that Democrats have shifted to the left ahead of 2020. Republicans view the courts as an issue that fires up their base and unifies the party.

“The Democrats lost ground after the Kavanaugh hearings. The fact that they’re reprosecuting things, and it’s following the same storyline as the hearings, is a loser for them,” said Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats worry about diversity on next debate stage North Carolina congressman says he won't seek reelection after redistricting Overnight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 MORE (R-N.C.), who is running for reelection in a top-tier Senate race.

Republicans previously made Kavanaugh a key issue during the 2018 Senate races, where several red- and purple-state senators who voted against him lost their reelection bids.

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSupreme Court poised to hear first major gun case in a decade Protecting the future of student data privacy: The time to act is now Overnight Health Care: Crunch time for Congress on surprise medical bills | CDC confirms 47 vaping-related deaths | Massachusetts passes flavored tobacco, vaping products ban MORE (D-Ill.), the Senate minority whip and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said Republicans love hearing Democrats talk about impeachment and warned his party against an “unrealistic,” “knee-jerk reaction.”

“The notion of an impeachment, to me, is unrealistic and the fact that we would divert ourselves from other issues for that purpose makes no sense,” he said. “It’s become a knee-jerk reaction among many Democrats.”

Al Weaver contributed.