We get two pieces of news for the price of one from a single sentence of Jerrold Nadler’s interview with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer. First, the House Judiciary chair makes it crystal clear that he intends to impeach Donald Trump. Second, Nadler clearly wants to stay out of any calls to impeach Brett Kavanaugh, despite the hornet’s nest the New York Times kicked over the weekend:
The House Judiciary Committee is too tied up with “impeaching the president” to take immediate action on a potential investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Monday.
“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,” Nadler said on WNYC when pressed by host Brian Lehrer.
Well … that’s one explanation, anyway. God forbid we should cheapen impeachment any more than it’s already being cheapened by Nadler. Why not impeach Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito, too? How about an undersecretary or two at Justice while we’re at it?
All of the calls for Kavanaugh’s impeachment might well undermine what little support Nadler has. John wrote about the polling on this question earlier today, which was already bad and is getting worse the closer we get to the 2020 election. The gap between voters’ interests and their perception of the party’s interests should worry House Democrats heading into the next cycle, especially those who won their midterm elections in previous Republican districts.
If Nadler has to choose — and he clearly does — he’s going to choose to pursue Trump, not Kavanaugh. The Democratic frontrunners might have climbed out onto the New York Times’ limb before reality sawed it off, but Nadler doesn’t have to follow suit. The facts haven’t actually changed at all despite the hysteria on the Left over the weekend except to make the case against Kavanaugh weaker rather than stronger. Just because all of his friends jumped off a credibility bridge doesn’t mean Nadler needs to do so, as the parents of teens are wont to scold.
That doesn’t mean Nadler will take a pass on Kavanaugh entirely, of course. He tells Lehrer that he still wants to do a deep dive on Kavanaugh at some point:
Nadler said his first move to investigate Kavanaugh would come next month, when FBI Director Christopher Wray appears for a previously scheduled hearing that will now feature a significant focus on the Supreme Court justice’s past — and whether the FBI’s background check was thorough enough. Nadler said his panel’s primary focus would be determining whether Kavanaugh lied to the Senate.
“These deeds that he allegedly did years ago would be very relevant to a senator voting for or against his nomination,” Nadler said.
Ah yes, the old “Kavanaugh’s perjury” canard. Not even Nadler was buying that at the time, and Wray has already testified to these exact questions almost a year ago. It’ll be a rehash of old material at best, although exactly when that would take place is anyone’s guess. Nadler has so many irons in the fire with Trump that it might take years before they get around to Kavanaugh, at which point even more people will be wondering what the point of such an investigation really is. Other than sour grapes, which also appears to be the prime motivating factor behind both demands for impeachment.
Update: CNN’s Chris Cillizza concludes that nothing’s going to happen to Kavanaugh:
Even if the Democratic-controlled House managed to impeach Kavanaugh — and that is no sure thing — there is almost no chance that the Senate would convict him. Republicans hold 53 Senate seats, which means that 20 of them would need to vote along with Democrats in order for Kavanaugh to be removed. Short of some hugely damning — and indisputably true — new facts about Kavanaugh’s past, it’s impossible to see such a thing happening.
All of which means that no matter how many books get written about Kavanaugh’s past, his future is almost certainly on the Supreme Court.
The same is true for Trump, except that impeachment might impact his re-election bid next year. How it would impact it is up for debate, of course. Kavanaugh, on the other hand, is on the Supreme Court for life. So what’s the point?