On Tuesday night, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) speaking before the Senate as it considers the impeachment of President Trump, stated that senators who voted against allowing additional witnesses who were not called upon by the House were guilty in abetting a White House cover up.
Those comments angered a senator who is largely considered to be a swing vote on the decision, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. She reportedly took great offense to Nadler’s remarks, allegedly snapping, “I took it as very offensive. As one who is listening attentively and working hard to get to a fair process, I was offended.”
“I took it as very offensive. As one who is listening attentively and working hard to get to a fair process, I was offended,” swing-vote Lisa Murkowski said tonight of Nadler’s presentation last night and his accusation of a GOP coverup
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 23, 2020
Murkowski wasn’t alone; as Politico reported, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) snapped, “If the Democrats are smart, they won’t put Jerry Nadler on the field again. He was so out of line. It’s offensive accusing us of a cover-up.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) echoed, “To my Democratic colleagues, you can say what you want about me, but I’m covering up nothing. I’m exposing your hatred of the president.”
Nadler’s incendiary comments included these:
I’m struck by what we have heard from the president’s counsel so far tonight. They complain about process but they do not seriously contest any of the allegations against the president. They insist that the president has done nothing wrong. But they refuse to allow the evidence and hear from the witnesses; they will not permit the American people to hear form the witnesses, and they lie. And lie, and lie, and lie … the president sometimes relies on a theory of absolute immunity that says that he can order anybody in the executive branch not to testify to the House or the Senate or to a court. Obviously this is ridiculous; it’s been flatly rejected by every federal court to consider the idea. It’s embarrassing; the president’s counsels will talk about this today.
Nadler also said, “I see a lot of senators voting for a cover-up, voting to deny witnesses, an absolutely indefensible vote, obviously a treacherous vote.”
White House counsel Pat Cipollone responded in a calm voice, but his words were fiery enough:
We’ve been respectful of the Senate; we’ve made our arguments to you; and you don’t deserve and we don’t deserve what just happened. Mr. Nadler came up here and made false allegations against our team; he made false allegations against all of you. He accused you of a cover-up. He’s been making false allegations against the president. The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you, for the way you’ve addressed this body …
He then raised his voice: “Mr. Nadler, you owe an apology to the President of the United States and his family. You owe an apology to the Senate. But most of all, you owe an apology to the American people.”
Chief Justice John Roberts, presiding over the proceedings, tried to equate Nadler’s accusations of lying with Cipollone’s demand for an apology, saying:
I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the president’s counsel in equal terms to remember that we are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body; on reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse.