Democratic candidates pushing for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh could create a major distraction from issues more important to voters and at the same time activate President Trump’s base, political observers say.
Conservative political consultant Brad Marston said a push to impeach Kavanaugh could “seriously motivate conservatives and the Trump base” in 2020.
“An impeachment of Kavanaugh would be seen as Democrats continuing to try to undo the consequences of the 2016 election,” Marston said, noting that Trump’s appointment of Kavanaugh gave conservatives a majority on the Supreme Court.
Numerous Democratic presidential candidates pushed Sunday for the impeachment of Kavanaugh in the wake of a new allegation of sexual misconduct.
Trump blasted the development, saying in a tweet, “”Brett Kavanaugh should start suing people for libel, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue. The lies being told about him are unbelievable. False Accusations without recrimination. When does it stop? They are trying to influence his opinions. Can’t let that happen!”
Kavanaugh was confirmed last year after fiery Senate hearings over a sexual assault allegation from his high school years.
The New York Times over the weekend reported that Kavanaugh faced a separate allegation from his time at Yale University. Kavanaugh has denied all allegations.
At least four Democratic presidential candidates called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment on Sunday including U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.
Warren tweeted, “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.”
Harris sent an email with an “urgent petition” to impeach Kavanaugh, writing that the judge lied under oath and should not be on the Supreme Court.
Impeachment hearings during the heart of the presidential campaign could lead to political blowback, said pollster John Zogby.
“Most Americans tell us they want to focus on the bread-and-butter issues, the economy and health care. An effort like this could be perceived outside the base as them taking their eyes off the prize,” Zogby said. “Voters could think going through a process like this sucks up too much time, and is really diverting a lot of attention away from the issues that a majority of voters really care about.”
Presidential candidates Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro also said Kavanaugh should be ousted from office.
“There’s really no downside for a Democratic candidate to call for impeachment,” said Democratic strategist Patrick Dorton. “There’s no woman in America who feels good about the Kavanaugh confirmation.”
While impeachment talk could stir the GOP base next year, Dorton said it also has the potential to “fire up” women voters for the Democratic nominee.
These calls over the weekend to impeach Kavanaugh came after the House Judiciary Committee last week approved ground rules for impeachment hearings against Trump.
Herald wire services were used in this report.
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