House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler appears to have been unleashed after months of downplaying his personal views on impeachment. In a radio interview Monday with New York station WNYC, Nadler made some of his bluntest comments to date on whether Donald Trump should be impeached, calling him a tyrant and asserting that Congress needed to “vindicate the Constitution.”
“Personally, I think the President ought to be impeached,” Nadler said during an interview with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer. Regardless of whether Senate Republicans ultimately vote to convict, Nadler argued that House Democrats have a job to do.
“We have to show that this kind of behavior—trashing the Constitution, trashing all the norms which guarantee democratic government, aggrandizing power to the Presidency and destroying the separation of powers and thereby leading the President to become more and more of a tyrant cannot be tolerated. And it cannot be normalized,” he said. “We have to make sure the next President or the one after him or her knows there’s a real penalty to be paid. That’s why the impeachment is necessary, even if we cannot get a vote in the Senate.”
But Nadler still appears to be hemmed in by public opinion, citing majority support as a necessary precondition to impeachment. “We cannot impeach the President against the will of the American people,” he said.
Public support is what Nadler and his Democratic committee members—most of whom favor impeachment—aim to build over the coming months. “We have to show that there are adequate grounds for impeachment, that there are imperative grounds for impeachment, and convince people,” he said. “If that happens, if people are convinced after the hearings that the President should be impeached, then we’ll be able to get the votes.”
House Judiciary Committee Democrats approved a resolution last week defining the parameters for their impeachment inquiry. On Tuesday, Judiciary Democrats plan to hold their first hearing on the matter since returning from recess with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. (Former White House staff secretary Rob Porter and former campaign adviser and White House deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn were also called to testify. Porter’s attorney said Monday that Trump instructed Porter not to testify, as he did former White House counsel Don McGahn. Dearborn is similarly expected not to show.)
Nadler also drew attention in the interview for saying that the Judiciary Committee was too preoccupied with the Trump impeachment investigation to take on impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. “We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now, and that’s going to take up our limited resources and time for a while,” Nadler said. The idea of impeaching Kavanaugh surfaced after new reporting this weekend revealed that more credible witnesses had seen Kavanaugh expose himself to women during college, but that the FBI hadn’t investigated the claims.
Nadler did say, however, that Democrats plan to question FBI Director Chris Wray next month on whether the agency conducted a flawed investigation of Kavanaugh. Nadler noted that figuring out whether Kavanaugh perjured himself during his confirmation hearings is actually the most relevant piece of information in relation to impeachment now that Kavanaugh’s a sitting justice.