Is this just a matter of semantics, or is Jerry Nadler backing down from a pledge made six weeks ago? In the wake of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, the incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee pledged to reopen the investigation into the Supreme Court justice and unsubstantiated allegations of sexual misconduct from more than thirty years ago. Mollie Hemingway reported that she overheard Nadler discussing plans to impeach Kavanaugh while on a cell-phone call last week.

CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Nadler on yesterday’s State of the Union whether an impeachment was in the works. Nadler denied that the committee would be investigating Kavanaugh, but rather whether the White House interfered in the FBI “investigation” of the allegations. He also called Hemingway a liar:

If that’s going to be Nadler’s argument, it’s nonsense. The FBI didn’t do a criminal investigation of the allegations because they didn’t have the jurisdiction to do so. The actions alleged by the complainants were state and local crimes, none of which were reported to state and local law enforcement either at the time or any time after.They conducted a background investigation, the client for which was the White House, which also had the authority to determine its scope.

Even with that in mind, however, the FBI did its job professionally and properly. Using the public testimony and proferrings of the complainants through their attorneys (and under penalty of perjury), the FBI looked for direct substantiation of the allegations and found none at all, even with the eyewitnesses cited by the complainants. The people who didn’t get interviewed — which is Nadler’s focus — had no connection to the supposed events at all. They were character witnesses for the complainants, which has nothing to do with an FBI background check on a nominee. The proper venue for those character witnesses, to the extent one exists at all, was the Senate Judiciary Committee, not an FBI interview — and the Judiciary Committee didn’t want to hear from them absent actual and direct substantiation of the allegations.

Nadler wants to eat his cake and have it too. He wants to claim that he’s not attacking Kavanaugh, perhaps mindful of the reaction such attacks created with voters over the last six weeks. However, the idea that he’s probing the White House and FBI by rehashing these unsubstantiated allegations is pure poppycock. Nadler just wants to extend the smear as much as possible in order to delegitimize Kavanaugh’s future work on the Supreme Court, even if he can’t get an impeachment motion to pass.