‘You don’t necessarily launch an impeachment against the president because he committed an impeachable offense…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) Democrats soon to be taking over crucial leadership posts in the House of Representatives are already making known their primary legislative agenda: Impeach 45.
But questions remain over whether they have the political will to go through with it, even if allegations against President Donald Trump implicate the president in campaign finance violations.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that if prosecutors can prove President Donald Trump directed his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to pay women hush money during his presidential campaign, the House could potentially take action against him.
“They would be impeachable offenses,” Nadler said during an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
“Whether they’re important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question. Certainly, they’re impeachable offenses, because, even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office.”
Nadler referred to federal prosecutors’ recent indictment of Cohen for paying off Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal and porn star Stormy Daniels to keep silent about their alleged affairs with Trump, which reportedly took place around 2006.
Mueller’s indictment filings suggested Cohen did so at Trump’s direction.
“In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office wrote in a sentencing memo. Individual-1 is the term they have been using to refer to the president.
Trump disputed the claims made by Democrats that the charges were anything but a potential civil matter, pointing to precedent in Obama’s campaign where he was forced to pay a hefty fine for failing to disclose campaign contributions.
Nadler said that the House may choose not to proceed with impeachment, even if the investigation proves the president was culpable for the alleged payments.
The political calculus likely hinges on public opinion. In 1998, as House Republicans were poised to charge then-President Bill Clinton with perjury and obstruction of justice, voters punished them at the polls, and many Democrats themselves argued that Clinton’s sexual exploits did not rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” that warranted impeachment.
Clinton was later acquitted by the Senate in what was a 50-50 party-line split, but several of his high-profile political adversaries were forced out of office when their own infidelities came to light during the proceedings.
“You don’t necessarily launch an impeachment against the president because he committed an impeachable offense,” Nadler said. “There are several things you have to look at: One, were impeachable offenses committed, how many, et cetera. Secondly, how important were they? Do they rise to the gravity where you should undertake an impeachment? An impeachment is an attempt to affect or overturn the result of the last election and [Congress] should do it only for very serious situations. That’s the question.”
Nadler also said, however, that even if the House doesn’t take up impeachment proceedings, the Department of Justice could choose to act if enough evidence is present.