To understand how far back New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler — the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and arguably the loudest voice among the Democrats clamoring for impeachment — was looking to oust President Donald Trump from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., you can pretty much go back to Trump’s inauguration, which Nadler refused to attend.
Even before Trump took up residence in the White House, Nadler said that “the president-elect, although legally elected, is not legitimate.” I appreciate he deigned to give Trump the “legally elected” part, but one doesn’t say a president is illegitimate without the attendant caveat that they shouldn’t be president and, given the chance, one would oust them from that position.
Unbelievably, given this history, Nadler was given the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which is where impeachment proceedings originate. So much for even an outward patina of objectivity.
Very believably, Nadler now thinks that Trump is “guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.” He hasn’t committed to an impeachment inquiry yet, but you can see what harbor this ship is headed toward.
As a news conference Friday, according to the Washington Examiner, Nadler tried to lay out his grounds under which the president should be impeached. Part of his reasoning, of course, had to do with the testimony given Wednesday by former special counsel Robert Mueller.
If only he had cited Mueller’s complete testimony.
The former special counsel, according to Nadler, “told us in a remarkable exchange with [California Rep. Ted] Lieu that, but for the Department of Justice policy prohibiting him from doing so, he would’ve indicted President Trump.
“Indeed, it is clear that any other citizen of this country who has behaved as this president has would have been charged with multiple crimes.”
There’s a little problem with that, which CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out when Nadler appeared on “State of the Union” Sunday. Namely, Mueller himself said it wasn’t so.
The exchange with Lieu, in case you’d forgotten, happened during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning. Before the Wednesday afternoon session with the House Intelligence Committee, Mueller clarified his earlier remarks in a statement that Tapper played back for Nadler.
“I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu who said, and I quote, ‘You didn’t charge the president because of the [Office of Legal Counsel] opinion,’” Mueller said.
“That is not the correct way to say it. As we say in the report, and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime,” he said.
“Were you not aware that Mueller had walked that back?” Tapper asked Nadler.
“Well, Mueller very carefully in the report said that he did not make a decision, but he did not make a decision only because he thought — and he says this in this report. He thought it unfair to the president to say he was guilty, likely guilty of a crime when the president couldn’t defend himself in a trial that wouldn’t occur because he could not be indicted because of the Department of Justice’s decision,” the congressman responded.
Nadler continued that the report “lays out five instances of obstruction” and reiterated that it “shows that had he not been the president, he would have been indicted for those crimes.”
“Right, but the exchange with Ted Lieu is misleading because Mueller walked it back. He said he didn’t mean to say what he said to Ted Lieu,” Tapper said.
“He was very careful not to say what the report says, if you read the report,” Nadler responded, adding that Mueller “was very careful not to say what the report makes clear, if you read the report, because he doesn’t think it’s fair to charge — to say the president is charged when he can’t — when there can be no trial because of the Department of Justice rule.”
“But he lays out in the report evidence that clearly establishes all three elements of the crime of obstruction of justice on at least five different counts,” Nadler continued.
Except that’s not what Mueller said Wednesday.
Tapper asked a very specific question: Was Nadler aware of Mueller’s testimony? Instead of answering it, Nadler just launched into a talking point — a talking point that is prima facie wrong. The report doesn’t demonstrate “that had [Trump] not been the president, he would have been indicted for those crimes” — at least not officially, and not in the eyes of Mueller.
But then, nothing will convince Jerrold Nadler that Donald Trump isn’t impeachable. At least in Nadler’s eyes, Trump has been an illegitimate president since day one. Why would Nadler let the facts of the Mueller report get in his way?
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