A top Democrat set to take over a very important chairmanship when the House of Representatives flips Democrat in January says that impeaching President Donald Trump is back on the table, after federal prosecutors in New York outlined a possible case against Trump for campaign finance violations.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NJ) will head up the House Judiciary Committee in January but, until now, has been reticent to commit to the idea of impeachment, often saying that the act of holding a trial for the president in a House of Congress would carry too much political liability. After all, the Senate is unlikely to remove the president from office, and any impeachment proceedings would likely come amid a contentious 2020 pesidential campaign season.
But in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper Sunday, Nadler called Trump's alleged campaign finance violations "impeachable offenses," according to the New York Post.
“Well, they would be impeachable offenses, whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question,” Nadler said. "But certainly they’d be impeachable offenses because even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office, that would be an impeachable offense."
The case against Trump boils down to his relationship with Michael Cohen, Trump's former adviser and attorney, and whether Trump specifically directed Cohen to make hundred-thousand-dollar payments to two women — adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal — with campaign funds. The allegations, set forth in Cohen's sentencing document, seem to form the basis for an indictment against Trump, even though campaign finance violations aren't always considered serious.
At the very least, Nadler told Tapper, the allegations provide Democrats with a new opportunity to investigate the president, adding to an already packed schedule of investigations, FOIA requests, and subpoenas.
“It is now our job, the job of the Justice Department, special counsel and the Congress, to get to the bottom of this, to find out exactly what was going on, to find out the extent of the president’s involvement,” Nadler said. “To find out exactly what did the president know and when did he know it, so we can hold him accountable.”
Nadler also noted that he sees no constitutional impediment to indicting the president, something the president's close advisers have claimed since the federal prosecutors' report dropped on Friday.
But even if New York does end up indicting the President, actual impeachment still carries with it significant risks. Democrats would have to organize and hold the proceedings in an election year, on live television — and while Trump may find the process disturbing, he may also find it advantageous. Trump's most ardent supporters are motivated by what they see as endless political attacks on the president; they aren't easily cowed.
As The Daily Wire reported over the weekend, Rep. Nadler was joined by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who told CBS's Face the Nation that he believes the president's alleged campaign finance violations are so serious, he could be frog-marched out of the White House and directly into a jail cell.
"There's a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time," he said.
So far for Democrats, though, much of this is speculation and wishful thinking.