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 a previously unreported allegation of sexual misconduct dating back to when Kavanaugh was a student at Yale. Now, Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied similar allegations, and a spokesperson for the Supreme Court said Kavanaugh has no comment on this one. NPR, we should note, has not independently confirmed the Times' reporting.
In me - in the studio with me now is Jonah Goldberg. He's a columnist with The LA Times. He's a frequent guest on MORNING EDITION. Hi, Jonah.
JONAH GOLDBERG: Hey. It's great to be back.
KING: So there's a wrinkle in this allegation. The claim was made by a male classmate of a female student at Yale who attended Yale the same time as Kavanaugh. She declined to be interviewed, and her friends have said she has no memory of this event. Whose problem does this become?
GOLDBERG: And particularly The New York Times. The New York Times went with a story that was not ready to come out of the oven yet. You know, it was basically based on hearsay. They left out this crucial fact until they were forced to issue a correction. I don't think this was The New York Times' most glorious moment. But I also think - and just ticking back and looking at this politically, this is a big mess for Democrats because there are an enormous number of Democrats who, for intermingled reasons, did not want Kavanaugh on the court, believed these allegations and also think the process was bad.
This stirs all of that up without providing any real, new, dispositive facts that settle it. And so long as it becomes a big subject of argument without any argument clearing new facts, that's actually good for the Republicans. Because Kavanaugh is this bloody shirt for conservatives. They believe, and I believe, that he was treated unfairly, that these allegations were not nailed down, that Blasey Ford, Christine Blasey Ford, who really launched all of this, was doing it for essentially partisan reasons, and...
KING: You believe that?
GOLDBERG: I do. I do. And I think her lawyer recently, in a released video, kind of suggests that that was the case or, at least, that was the lawyer's motivation. And so I think that if you stir all of this up without providing new facts that prove things one way or another, that benefits Donald Trump, who's desperate to ignite a sort of wartime presidency culture war where he's waging war against blue America and the fake news and all of that. That helps mobilize Republicans more than, I think, it helps mobilize Democrats.
KING: President Trump said yesterday morning that Kavanaugh should start suing people, or that the Justice Department should come to his rescue. What do you think about that?
GOLDBERG: I think that's very - social scientists call that very dumb. (Laughter).
KING: In what sense?
GOLDBERG: Well, I just - I don't even know what it means. Is he going to go to - is the Justice Department going to, on behalf of the judicial - head of the judicial branch, start suing The New York Times? Where does that lead? It would be great sort of talk-radio red meat. But other than that, I put that in the category of the other tweets that are just meant to stir the pot and get people to scratch their heads.
KING: OK. Not a real thing, is what you're saying.
KING: Impeaching a Supreme Court justice basically follows the same rules as impeaching a president. There has to be a joint effort by the House and the Senate. Can you imagine - with leading Democrats calling for the impeachment, can you imagine there's political will in Congress for this to move forward?
KING: Not at all?
GOLDBERG: I mean, I can - Nancy Pelosi has been trying very, very hard to tamp down talk about impeaching Donald Trump. I would assume that the logic of her wanting to do that also would apply to Kavanaugh. The voters that the Democrats need to make a serious majority are not the base voters. They are moderates and independents who are sick of all the craziness, they're sick of feeling like the world doesn't make sense, and all the shouting and the drama. And an impeachment thing without the facts nailed down is not something that helps the Democrats' branding as the reasonable adults in the room.
KING: Jonah Goldberg is a columnist with The LA Times. He's a frequent guest here on MORNING EDITION. Jonah, thanks so much for coming in. We appreciate it.
GOLDBERG: It's always great to be here. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.