The just-completed FBI background check into Brett Kavanaugh seems to have made his situation even more complicated than it was before. Many people — including senators — are now worried that the Republican-guided FBI investigation was severely limited in scope. Because of this, it has not eliminated concerns about the judge’s fitness to serve on the Supreme Court.
The FBI investigation appears to have been superficial and possibly a sham. Still, it is not clear if GOP Senators Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins (who requested the investigation) will support him anyway.
If they do, and Kavanaugh goes on the Supreme Court, Democrats will not forget about it. If they win control of the House of Representatives in November, they will have a great deal of power to investigate, and possibly impeach, the new justice.
It has been hoped that the three undecided Republican senators would consider that possibility before voting to put Kavanaugh on the court.
Facts that are known now to only a few people will come to light in House hearings, and then become known to all of us. Votes in favor of Kavanaugh now by Republicans may come back to haunt them later.
Impeachment trials are a possibility in this situation. The U.S. Constitution allows for the removal from office of judges on the same terms as for a president.
Article II, section 4 reads:
“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
In impeachment cases, the House investigates and votes on articles of impeachment first. If they receive a majority vote they then go to the Senate, and they conduct an impeachment trial. It takes a vote of two-thirds to remove the “civil officer” from his position.
In U.S. history 15 judges have been impeached in the House and eight removed from office by the Senate. There was only one Supreme Court justice impeached in the House, Samuel Chase during the Jefferson administration, but he was not removed by the Senate.
Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi has said she has no plans to impeach, but New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the current ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, has implied he would consider it if he takes over the chairmanship in January.
Nadler was specifically asked whether he’d consider impeachment of Kavanaugh, and he had this to say:
“We would have to investigate any credible allegations of perjury and other things that haven’t been properly looked into before.”
Impeachment would result from hearings, so the House would need to do a lot of fact finding first. If the FBI has failed to interview the witnesses suggested by other alleged assault victims, such as Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, hearings will look more deeply into their allegations.
As Nadler suggested, the House Judiciary Committee could also look into whether Kavanaugh committed perjury during the hearings. Kavanaugh’s perjury is a topic that has been widely discussed, although it was not the subject of the FBI investigation. (By White House direction.)
There also might possibly be new sexual misconduct allegations that become public after Kavanaugh takes his place on the Supreme Court.
So Brett Kavanaugh should be worried about House hearings and possibly impeachment proceedings.
Republican senators who vote to confirm him should also be worried. If Kavanaugh lands back in the Senate for an impeachment trial, there will be a lot of awkward questions for those senators who voted for him to be confirmed. Did they purposely overlook his perjury and sexual assaults?
There could be huge political problems that arise for those senators in that situation. It is something that prudence would dictate be considered before a confirmation vote is actually taken. Since a full Senate floor vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation may be held as early as Saturday, we will not have to wait long to find out what they decide to do.