If you’re involved in politics — especially if you’re a politician — it’s probably best not to discuss your plans for going after the opposition while in public, especially in a place frequented by journalists.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) was riding the Acela train from New York to Washington on Wednesday and talking on the phone about his plans to go “all-in” on investigating President Donald Trump over allegations of Russian collusion in the 2016 election and attempting to impeach Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh for sexual misconduct and/or perjury. Now that Democrats have won control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nadler will become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, since he is the current ranking member.
Also on the Acela was Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist*, who dutifully reported on Nadler’s plans. In one conversation, Nadler spoke to a friend about meeting with Judiciary committee staff. “We’ve got to figure out what we’re doing,” he said.
“The two discussed two routes for investigating new Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh,” Hemingway wrote of the conversation. “The first is to go after the FBI for how they handled the investigation into unsubstantiated claims he sexually assaulted women. ‘They didn’t even do a half-ass job,’ he said. ‘They didn’t interview 30 witnesses who said ‘Interview me! I’ve got a lot to say!'’ he said, while mimicking people waving their hands to be called on.”
Nadler also reportedly said on the call that he would try to go after Kavanaugh because “there’s a real indication that Kavanaugh committed perjury.” He mentioned an Atlantic article about accusations from a third woman (he actually meant The New Yorker and the second accuser). Nadler claimed Kavanaugh committed perjury when he said he only learned of the allegations when he heard about The New Yorker article. Democrats tried to say this was a lie by heavily parsing his responses under oath. In reality, Kavanaugh did not perjure himself.
Hemingway also reports that Nadler told his friend that removing Kavanaugh might not be a good idea.
“The worst-case scenario — or best case depending on your point of view — you prove he committed perjury, about a terrible subject and the Judicial Conference recommends you impeach him. So the president appoints someone just as bad,” Nadler said.
The incoming Judiciary chairman then lamented the fact that an investigation into Kavanaugh might not take long enough to succeed the 2020 election, after which a potential new Democrat president (if Trump loses) could choose a new Supreme Court justice.
“There are a finite amount of witnesses. I don’t see why it should take long at all,” he said. “We’re not talking about a 30-year scheme of getting money from Russians via hidden sources — that takes time.”
Nadler also discussed holding Trump “accountable” and continuing to look into the Democrats’ still unsubstantiated theory that Trump colluded with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election. He said the Judiciary Committee would “have a role” that would support Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) work on the House Intelligence Committee.
Hemingway also reported that Nadler told someone else on a different call that Democrats’ messaging on the economy should focus on telling people only wealthy people are being helped, even though non-wealthy people clearly see a benefit in their own lives.
“In another call, Nadler said Republicans did better than expected on election night because of the booming economy. He suggested messaging that the economy is only helping wealthy people and not other classes, and worried that changes to the economic boom would be blamed on Democrats,” Hemingway wrote. “He also complained that the new voters being recruited to join Democrats were ‘Rockefeller Republicans’ who are liberal on social issues and that the new group makes Democrats more vulnerable to the charge they are no longer the party of the working person.”
*I also have a byline at The Federalist.