The Democrats running for president who quickly called for Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s impeachment over the weekend aren’t backing down – despite The New York Times issuing a major revision to its blockbuster story that ignited the demands in the first place.
For the most part, those candidates are not even acknowledging the story update.
Meanwhile, Rep. Jerry Nadler, the Democratic leader of the House Judiciary Committee, seemed to brush off his party’s calls to begin proceedings against Kavanaugh, saying on a radio show Monday: “We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now.”
Many of the major 2020 Democratic candidates for president over the weekend released statements calling for Congress to impeach Kavanaugh, citing the Times’ reporting of an uncorroborated and disputed college-era allegation of sexual misconduct as a reason to impeach.
But late Sunday, the paper revised its portrayed blockbuster story to include the fact that several friends of the alleged victim said she told them she did not recall the reported sexual assault in question.
But that didn’t prompt Democrats to revise or walk back their calls: In one case, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer called for impeachment proceedings even after the Times’ update.
“If the only way to get the truth is to launch an impeachment process for Justice Kavanaugh, I support starting that process immediately,” Steyer said Monday.
Fox News has reached out to the Democrats who called for impeachment over the weekend to ask if the candidates have changed their position in light of the newspaper’s editors’ note. None have responded yet.
California Sen. Kamala Harris – who said over the weekend that Kavanaugh “must be impeached – did not back down in a new tweet Monday, saying, “The reality of Kavanaugh’s confirmation process is that it lacked any integrity — there has never been a meaningful investigation into these allegations. We need the truth.”
The Times piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, asserted that a Kavanaugh classmate, Clinton-connected nonprofit CEO Max Stier, “saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.”
The Times did not mention Stier’s work as a Clinton defense attorney, or his legal battles with Kavanaugh during the Whitewater investigation. According to the Times, Stier “notified senators and the FBI about this account” last year during the Kavanaugh hearings, “but the FBI did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly.”
However, the Times’ article also initially did not mention that Pogrebin and Kelly’s book found that the female student in question did not recall the alleged episode.
In its update, the paper later said, “Editors’ Note: An earlier version of this article, which was adapted from a forthcoming book, did not include one element of the book’s account regarding an assertion by a Yale classmate that friends of Brett Kavanaugh pushed his penis into the hand of a female student at a drunken dorm party. The book reports 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.”
Still, the earlier reporting ignited an avalanche of impeachment calls.
Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro tweeted: “It’s more clear than ever that Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath. He should be impeached. And Congress should review the failure of the Department of Justice to properly investigate the matter.”
Said Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “Last year the Kavanaugh nomination was rammed through the Senate without a thorough examination of the allegations against him. Confirmation is not exoneration, and these newest revelations are disturbing. Like the man who appointed him, Kavanaugh should be impeached.”
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke said: “Yesterday, we learned of another accusation against Brett Kavanaugh—one we didn’t find out about before he was confirmed because the Senate forced the FBI to rush its investigation to save his nomination. We know he lied under oath. He should be impeached.”
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., tweeted in part, “This new allegation and additional corroborating evidence adds to a long list of reasons why Brett Kavanaugh should not be a Supreme Court justice. I stand with survivors and countless other Americans in calling for impeachment proceedings to begin.”
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg said: “Kavanaugh should resign and if he doesn’t, the House should impeach him.”
On Capitol Hill, the news prompted outrage from Democrats, but whether that could translate into another dramatic investigation remains to be seen.
In his interview with the “Brian Lehrer Show” on Monday, Nadler suggested his committee is more focused on impeaching the president. But he signaled openness to at least reviewing allegations against Kavanaugh. Pressed by the host, Nadler ripped the FBI’s investigation of the allegations as a “sham” and said: “It might fall under our jurisdiction. We’d have to take a look at that.”
Others on the campaign trail raised concerns about Kavanaugh but didn’t explicitly call for impeachment.
Former Vice President Joe Biden said: “This weekend’s report in the New York Times raises again profoundly troubling questions about the integrity of the confirmation process that put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court in the first place.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders said he backed going after Kavanaugh by any legal means available: “The revelations today confirm what we already knew: During his hearing, Kavanaugh faced credible accusations and likely lied to Congress. I support any appropriate constitutional mechanism to hold him accountable.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar stopped short of calling for impeachment, and instead posted a picture of Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford with the words, “Let us never forget what courage looks like.”
Conservatives have ripped into Democrats for their calls:
“This is the weakest of the weak type of allegations. It’s really a shameful attempt to reignite these smears against Judge Kavanaugh that are utterly baseless,” Carrie Severino, the founder of the Judicial Crisis Network who recently wrote a sympathetic book about Kavanaugh, said on “Fox & Friends.”
Trump, for his part, suggested Sunday that Kavanaugh should sue for defamation.
Still, other Democrats ramped up their criticism of Kavanaugh on Monday.
“It is unsurprising that Kavanaugh, credibly accused of sexual assault, would lie under oath to secure a Supreme Court seat,” tweeted New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “Because sexual assault isn’t a crime of passion – it’s about the abuse of power. He must be impeached.”
Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report.