Harris And Others Call For Kavanaugh's Impeachment After Allegations

Sep 16, 2019
Originally published on September 16, 2019 11:56 am
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NOEL KING, HOST:

Some top Democrats are calling for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to be impeached. Here's why. Over the weekend, the New York Times published an essay that's adapted from a new book by two Times reporters. It details an allegation of sexual misconduct that had not been made public yet. It dates back to when Kavanaugh was a student at Yale. Kavanaugh has denied similar allegations. A spokesperson for the Supreme Court told NPR this morning that Kavanaugh has no comment on this one. And we should note that NPR has not independently confirmed the Times' reporting.

Now, Senator Kamala Harris is one of those calling for impeachment. She's on the line with me. Good morning, Senator.

KAMALA HARRIS: Good morning.

KING: Good morning to you. I want to ask you about this latest allegation. Both the male classmate who made this allegation against Kavanaugh and the alleged victim declined interviews with the media. The alleged victim reportedly told her friends she does not remember this incident with Kavanaugh happening. Now, you're a former prosecutor. Are you not troubled by a lack of evidence here?

HARRIS: Well, I would say that the fact that someone does not remember the details of an incident doesn't mean that there's lack of evidence if there are other witnesses who can establish that the fact occurred. And so I wouldn't say there's no evidence. And it is also, I must say, very normal (laughter) for someone, especially someone who has been the subject of this kind of behavior, to not be - you know, to not be clear on the details. That's not abnormal. And...

KING: It's worth noting, though, that the witness has not established that this in fact occurred. He was a male classmate of this woman. He says it happened, but no one has proved that it's happened. Does that trouble you?

HARRIS: But you're getting to exactly the point. Someone should investigate this because the fact that something has not been proven, it doesn't mean it didn't occur, right?

KING: OK.

HARRIS: But if you don't investigate it, if it hasn't been investigated, then there's not been a full airing of the issue. And my point from the beginning about all of these allegations against Brett Kavanaugh is that there's not been a robust, a meaningful investigation. There's not been an investigation with the level of attention that normally would occur around these kinds of allegations and especially related to the subject at hand, which is the appropriateness of this individual who's serving on the highest court of our land for a lifetime appointment.

From the beginning, back when we were hearing about the allegations from Dr. Ford, when we learned about the incidents involving - the alleged incidents involving Ms. Ramirez, we were calling for a robust investigation by the FBI. I asked the director of the FBI back then on the stand whether he was able to direct the scope of the investigation himself, and it became very clear it was the White House that was directing the scope of the investigation and actually limiting it to a incredible degree. So there's not been a real airing - a real investigation of these allegations, and that's what troubles me so deeply.

KING: You mentioned Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who publicly testified. Many, many people found her testimony incredibly compelling. I wonder, why are you calling for Justice Kavanaugh's impeachment now and not immediately after that confirmation process and that testimony?

HARRIS: Because we're now looking - well, he's now in office. He's now in office. So he obviously could not be impeached earlier because he was not yet in office. But I certainly did - I voted against his confirmation because it was clear to me he lied under oath. And I think we all know he did.

KING: No, we don't. I mean, you have said that he lied under oath. But I wonder when - what is the evidence that he lied under oath? Now, many people believed Dr. Blasey Ford. Many people found her to be very credible. But is there evidence that Justice Kavanaugh lied under oath?

HARRIS: Well - OK. So we can look at a number of aspects and components of his testimony, including the testimony about his yearbook and what it contained and what it meant, the testimony about his drinking, the testimony about his involvement in the anti-Roe judicial nomination when he was in the White House. And the reality is that this confirmation process was - it lacked integrity. It was pushed through.

Hundreds of pages of documents were given to us at the last - in the last hours before the hearing. And Dr. Ford, for example, was treated like she was on trial. Thousands of documents, by the way, were dropped the night before the hearing. And there was no full FBI investigation of the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and assault. Perhaps we would have a different perspective if there had been a real investigation, but there was not. And these allegations are quite serious.

KING: I wonder, though, Senator, can you imagine impeachment actually happening? Because it would have to be a joint effort by the House and the Senate. And I wonder, do you think there is the political will in Congress for this to happen?

HARRIS: You raise a very important point. And I don't think that, in the United States Senate, that the leader of the Senate would allow that there would be a vote to return the articles of the - after - if the House returned articles of impeachment to actually convict. I think you're right. But that doesn't mean the process shouldn't take hold. And, you know, this relates to an - the topic of impeachment as it relates to another individual.

You know, these are - our - the beauty of the design of our democracy is we created checks and balances. And one of them is that Congress has the power to bring articles of impeachment on issues like this. And there should - the process should take hold.

And - but you're right, and you raise a legitimate point. Where will it end up? You know, if you gauge what the United States Senate has done under the current leadership, it has been coddling. And, frankly, you know, it's not holding into account this administration on a number of levels. But it doesn't mean that those of us have a - who have a responsibility to act shouldn't act.

KING: I must ask you something in the last minute that we have left. You and all of the other Democrats calling for Justice Kavanaugh's impeachment thus far, you're all running for president. There will be accusations that this is political opportunism. What do you say to that?

HARRIS: You know, I thought about that before I publicly called for impeachment. You're right, and I know that. And I know that. I - this has been an issue that I've been working on for over a year. I sat in that hearing room as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I watched Dr. Ford, who came forward and told the American public what happened to her and had nothing to do with politics. And she was excoriated. She was treated like a criminal.

I feel very strongly about this case. I have since then. And so I'm willing to take the hit. I agree that some will say it's politically motivated. But to be very honest and clear with you, this has to do with the facts of that case.

KING: Yeah. Democratic presidential candidate and senator, Kamala Harris. Thank you so much for your time.

HARRIS: Thank you.

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