By Ben Weingarten – The Federalist
Hours after midterm election night 2018, Mollie Hemingway reported that incoming House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) had impeachment on his mind, cavalierly chatting away on his phone on a train to Washington about the prospect of raising it against President Donald Trump. If his recent words are any indication, he may very well make good on that threat.
Following the release of the sentencing memorandum for the president’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, which alleged that Cohen had engaged in campaign finance violations at the behest of then-candidate Trump, Nadler took to the airwaves to lodge his most serious claim yet regarding presidential impeachment. Here’s the relevant exchange from CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper:
TAPPER: If it is proven that the president directed or coordinated with Cohen to commit these [two federal campaign finance] felonies…are those impeachable offenses?
NADLER: Well, they would be impeachable offenses…even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office. That would be the — that would be an impeachable offense.
Nadler was careful to hedge, caveating that “You don’t necessarily launch an impeachment against the president because he committed an impeachable offense.”
Nadler appears to be applying a dumbfounding double standard brought into stark relief when one reviews his record on the matter of presidential impeachment. Twenty years ago this month, the Democratic congressman from New York took to the House floor to deliver an impassioned defense of then-President Bill Clinton against impeachment.
Nadler began by declaring: “[I]mpeachment is reserved under the Constitution only for abuses of presidential power that undermine the structure or functioning of government, or of constitutional liberty.”
Are we to believe, then, that alleged campaign finance violations undermine the “structure or functioning of government, or of constitutional liberty?” Ironically, on the latter point, campaign finance laws themselves often restrict the very speech—political speech—at the core of the First Amendment. Also, Nadler references presidential abuses. President Trump was not in office when such alleged violations transpired.
The congressman continued: “It [impeachment] is not intended as a punishment for crimes, but as a protection against a president who would abuse his powers to make himself a tyrant…” How does the attempt to hide private sexual matters during an election qualify as a tyrannical abuse of power?
Nadler proceeded to the crux of the Democrats’ defense of then-President Clinton: “Perjury in a private matter, perjury regarding sex is not a great and dangerous offense against the nation. It is not an abuse of uniquely presidential power. It does not threaten our form of government. It is not an impeachable offense.”
Why is “perjury regarding sex,” and while in office, “not a great and dangerous offense against the nation,” but an alleged campaign finance violation regarding sex that occurred prior to entering office impeachable? How do two-year-old hush money payments affect “the president’s duties and performance in office?” In what world are alleged campaign finance violations concerning $280,000 “great and dangerous offense[s] against the nation?”
You can read more here.