WASHINGTON — House Democrats will open an investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct and perjury against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh if they win control of the House in November, Representative Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat in line to be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said on Friday.
Speaking on the eve of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote this weekend, Mr. Nadler said that there was evidence that Senate Republicans and the F.B.I. had overseen a “whitewash” investigation of the allegations and that the legitimacy of the Supreme Court was at stake. He sidestepped the issue of impeachment.
“It is not something we are eager to do,” Mr. Nadler said in an interview. “But the Senate having failed to do its proper constitutionally mandated job of advise and consent, we are going to have to do something to provide a check and balance, to protect the rule of law and to protect the legitimacy of one of our most important institutions.”
Mr. Nadler’s comments resembled those of Senate Democrats who pushed aggressively for an F.B.I. investigation into allegations by three women — Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick — that Judge Kavanaugh had engaged in sexual assault or misconduct. Democrats said the resulting investigation fell far short of legitimacy. And they have questioned whether Judge Kavanaugh was truthful in his testimony about a number of issues, including his drinking habits, before the Judiciary Committee.
But unlike Democrats in the upper chamber, who are likely to remain in the minority after November’s elections, Mr. Nadler could soon have subpoena power and a chairman’s gavel, backed by a Democratic majority in the House.
He said that if Democrats took power, he would expect the committee to immediately subpoena records from the White House and the F.B.I., which conducted an abbreviated supplemental background investigation into two of the misconduct claims. That document request would include communications between officials at both entities. The committee would also seek to interview Judge Kavanaugh’s accusers and the dozens of potential witnesses they identified in recent days, most of whom were not contacted by the F.B.I. He said he would also call the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, to testify.
Mr. Nadler said it would probably be difficult to interview Judge Kavanaugh if he was sitting on the Supreme Court.
Dr. Blasey, a research psychologist in Northern California, publicly accused Judge Kavanaugh of trying to rape her when they were teenagers. Ms. Ramirez has said Judge Kavanaugh positioned his genitals in her face at a college party. The F.B.I. spoke to roughly 10 witnesses about the cases, but lawyers for both women said the F.B.I. failed to follow obvious leads.
Mr. Nadler’s comments are likely to be seized on by Republicans, who have accused Democrats of waging a campaign to discredit Judge Kavanaugh at all costs. They argued on Friday that Democrats would never be satisfied with any investigation, and they say that it is the Democrats who are trying to undercut the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.
Senators are expected to hold a final vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination Saturday afternoon, despite entrenched Democratic opposition. Judge Kavanaugh appeared to have the support of every Republican but one, meaning that his confirmation was all but assured.
Mr. Nadler said he was not yet thinking about the possibility of impeaching a Justice Kavanaugh, although the House Judiciary Committee is the congressional body that would initiate such proceedings.
Only one Supreme Court justice, Samuel Chase, has been impeached. The House voted to impeach him in 1804 on counts that he had let his political bias sway his rulings, but he was acquitted of all counts by the Senate.
In the case of Judge Kavanaugh, even if the House did proceed to impeach him, it would take the consent of two-thirds of the Senate to remove him.
Mr. Nadler said he did not know what impact the specter of an investigation would have on November’s election, but he said he felt an obligation to proceed if Democrats take control of the House. He said such an investigation would be part of broader Democratic concerns about attacks on the judicial system and the rule of law by the Trump administration.
“We have to assure the American people either that it was a fair process and that the new justice did not commit perjury, did not do these terrible things, or reveal that we just don’t know because the investigation was a whitewash,” Mr. Nadler said.