Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) reportedly fought with fellow Democratic leaders — including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Impeachment Manager Adam Schiff (D-CA) — over the first impeachment proceedings against former President Donald Trump.
According to a new book from Politico Playbook’s Rachael Bade and The Washington Post’s Karoun Demirjian — “Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump” — Nadler worried that the proceedings were “unconstitutional” and voiced concern over not allowing Trump a vigorous defense.
Fox News detailed excerpts of the book, set to be released on October 18, noting that Nadler specifically took issue with Schiff’s plan to proceed with impeachment regarding Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — without ensuring the former president had due process.
“It’s unfair, and it’s unprecedented, and it’s unconstitutional,” Nadler reportedly said, complaining that his Judiciary Committee would not have the chance to cross-examine the witnesses as they had in the past.
“I don’t appreciate your tone. I worry you’re putting us in a box for our investigation,” was Schiff’s alleged response to Nadler’s objections.
Pelosi reportedly all-but sidelined Nadler then, choosing not to give the Judiciary Committee the same power it had enjoyed during previous impeachments.
“She didn’t want the Judiciary panel to interview witnesses at all. Pelosi simply didn’t trust the panel — which was stacked with liberal crusaders and hotheaded conservatives — to handle the rollout of the complex Ukraine narrative with the careful, compelling treatment it required,” the authors wrote. “She couldn’t afford another Nadler screwup. The Judiciary chairman could focus on the legal business of crafting the articles of impeachment and have academics testify, she allowed. But that was it.”
Nadler continued to push back, however, reportedly warning Schiff and Pelosi that they would be vulnerable to complaints about the process if they refused to allow Trump to face his accusers or mount a defense.
“If we’re going to impeach, we need to show the country that we gave the president ample opportunity to defend himself,” he said — but Pelosi and Schiff were reportedly concerned that Trump’s attorneys might say something that could damage President Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
The alleged response from Schiff’s team was unequivocal: “F*** Donald Trump.”
Nadler tried once more to sway the two, saying that he “resented” being told how to run his own committee and allegedly asking, “They’re going to argue we don’t have due process for Trump. Why make that argument real?”
“I don’t really care about your resentment. Neither the Speaker nor I agree,” Schiff reportedly shot back.