WASHINGTON – Using the hashtag "#ImpeachKavanaugh," Brett Kavanaugh's critics on social media are suggesting that Congress should remove him from the judiciary, whether or not he makes it to the Supreme Court.
"The #ImpeachKavanaugh movement has begun, and investigations are nowhere near over," tweeted Howard Fineman, an NBC News analyst. "Not since the days of #FDR's New Deal has the Supreme Court been such an open venue for raw politics."
Michael Lindauer tweeted Thursday with the hashtag that based on his "absurd denials, stonewalling, obfuscation, lies and compelling testimony against him, he should impeached." Scott Wainner tweeted that if the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh are true, he "should not be a judge."
Kavanaugh's opponents say they believe the nominee lied when he denied allegations by Christine Blasey Ford that he sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. In a day-long hearing Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from both Ford and Kavanaugh. President Donald Trump and Republican leaders have stood by Kavanaugh, saying they found his denials persuasive.
Senate Democrats on Friday were focused on a scramble to push an FBI investigation of Kavanaugh and to delay a vote by the full Senate on his nomination.
But some Democrats in the House said they wanted to see Congress investigate Kavanaugh.
Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, tweeted Friday that if Democrats regain control of the House in the Nov. 6 midterm elections, they could subpoena witnesses to investigate federal judges and justices.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., who also serves on the panel, tweeted Friday that the divergent accounts by Kavanaugh and Ford in Thursday's testimony indicated that “someone committed perjury.”
Kavanaugh “should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and should not serve as a judge on any court,” Gutierrez said.
In the Senate hearing, Kavanaugh lashed out at Democrats over their handling of Ford's allegations, calling the process a "national disgrace" and "a circus."
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Friday, along party lines, the nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court – with a request that the FBI conduct an investigation into sexual assault allegations before the full Senate takes a vote.
Trump continued to stand by Kavanaugh and said Friday he hasn't considered any replacements. "I'm sure it will all be very good," Trump said. He asked for an FBI investigation to be completed in a week.
“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file," Trump said in a statement. "As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”
Democrats have been infuriated by Republicans' efforts to move ahead with a vote on Kavanaugh without an FBI investigation.
Taking control of one or more chambers of the U.S. Congress would give Democrats the power to launch investigations on Kavanaugh – or other members of the judiciary – if they wanted to.
Lisa Graves, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department, called for his impeachment in a September essay in Slate magazine because of allegations he lied under oath about whether he’d received documents stolen from Senate Democrats about President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees while Kavanaugh worked in the White House in the early 2000s.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked Kavanaugh at a Sept. 5 hearing whether he was concerned about how a Republican aide obtained the Democratic documents given to Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh replied that Republican and Democratic staffers sometimes cooperated on nominations, so seeing Democratic documents wouldn't have raised concerns.
"That is the coin of the realm, Senator X is interested in focusing on administrative law, Senator Y is going to ask about environmental law, senator is concerned about your past work for this client," Kavanaugh said.
Impeachment of a federal official is a rare and contentious way to remove an official from office for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” as laid out in the Constitution.
The impeachment process requires a majority vote in the House to initiate the proceedings and a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove the official from office. The Senate has conducted 16 impeachment trials, beginning in 1797 with Tennessee Sen. William Blount and including President Bill Clinton in 1998, according to a Congressional Research Service report in 2010. Former President Richard Nixon avoided impeachment by resigning in 1974 after the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment.
The Senate convicted eight judges – seven District Court judges and one 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge – in impeachment trials from 1804 to 2010, according to the Congressional Research Service report. One of the judges removed in 1989, Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida, won election to the House in 1992 and continues to serve there.