Saturday 24 August 2019

Trump 'richly deserves' to be impeached, insists Nadler

Resisting calls to impeach Trump: US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi poses with Democrat Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her office at the US Capitol in Washington. Photo: Reuters
Resisting calls to impeach Trump: US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi poses with Democrat Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her office at the US Capitol in Washington. Photo: Reuters

Karoun Demirjian

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has said that he believes US President Donald Trump "richly deserves impeachment".

The explosive statement is significant as Jerrold Nadler's committee has the power to launch proceedings to remove the president from office.

Democrat Mr Nadler, appearing on CNN's 'State of the Union', said Mr Trump "has done many impeachable offences, he's violated the law six ways from Sunday".

"But that's not the question," Mr Nadler continued. "The question is, can we develop enough evidence to put before the American people?"

The distinction illustrates a growing tension within the Democratic Party: many members are convinced Mr Trump ought to be impeached, but the consensus among party leaders is that they should try to secure more records and witness interviews through the courts before embarking on such a politically incendiary move, especially as the GOP-controlled Senate is likely to defeat such an effort.

Mr Nadler's comments come on the heels of former special counsel Robert Mueller's congressional testimony on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mr Nadler called the testimony "an inflection point, in that it broke the administration's lie, the attorney general's lie, that the president was fully exonerated by the Mueller report".

Wants to gather evidence: Jerrold Nadler, Judiciary Committee chair. Photo: Reuters
Wants to gather evidence: Jerrold Nadler, Judiciary Committee chair. Photo: Reuters

As the leader of the committee that would launch the impeachment hearings, Mr Nadler is the most important Democrat yet to publicly state his personal support for the cause in no uncertain terms. But he has been loath to cross House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in his official moves - and gave no sign that he intended to break with that pattern.

"We're investigating the corruption of the administration, the abuses of power... all the things that might cause us to recommend articles of impeachment," Mr Nadler said.

"We now have to get further evidence and put it before the American people as we consider articles of impeachment."

Ms Pelosi has regularly resisted the calls from her caucus for impeachment proceedings, but last week, she signed off on the House Judiciary Committee's appeal to a federal judge to enforce its subpoenas seeking the redacted grand jury information contained in the Mueller report.

Mr Nadler also told reporters that the panel would go to court next week to enforce its subpoenas against former White House counsel Donald McGahn, whose testimony was key to the report.

Speaking on NBC News's 'Meet the Press', House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said Mr Trump could tip the scales toward impeachment if he continued "to obstruct the Congress in its lawful and constitutional duty" to conduct its investigations and oversight of the administration.

"If we can't get adequate answers from the court in time, that in itself will be an impeachable offence," Mr Schiff said, noting that even if Mr Trump's efforts to block congressional investigations do not constitute a "crime" that Mr Mueller could have prosecuted, such misdemeanours could form a basis for impeachment.

But, the Democrat continued, that is not the only consideration in determining whether - or when - to impeach Mr Trump.

"There's no making the case to the cult of the president's personality that is the Senate GOP, but we should at least be able to make the case to the American people," Mr Schiff said.

"I want to make sure that that's true before we go down this path."

Mr Schiff suggested that Democrats would have to make that call sometime in the autumn.

Democrat Jackie Speier, who serves on both the Intelligence and Oversight committees, suggested on CNN last week that the House would have to act by September.

Mr Nadler rejected the suggestion that Democrats might be running out of time to launch formal impeachment proceedings because of the approaching 2020 election.

"We have to defend the constitution against these kinds of unconstitutional and illegal deeds," he said. "We have to do this, whatever time frame there is."

Mr Nadler would not say directly whether he felt Mr Trump should be prosecuted for obstruction of justice or other alleged crimes after leaving office - but hinted he might be in favour of it. (© The Washington Post)

Irish Independent

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