Nadler: Impeachment inquiry a 'made-up term' but it's essentially 'what we are doing'

Nadler: Impeachment inquiry a 'made-up term' but it's essentially 'what we are doing'
© Greg Nash

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerOfficials say foreign governments should not investigate presidential political opponents Dem committee chairs blast Trump G-7 announcement Top Democrat holds moment of silence for Cummings at hearing MORE (D-N.Y.) on Friday defended Democrats' impeachment efforts against President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Support for impeachment inches up in poll Fox News's Bret Baier calls Trump's attacks on media 'a problem' MORE, despite mixed messages from lawmakers describing what his panel is doing on the issue.

In an appearance on CNN, prime-time host Chris CuomoChristopher (Chris) Charles CuomoNY Gov. Andrew Cuomo uses N-word during radio interview 10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable Tulsi Gabbard rips Trump's Syria decision: 'Kurds are now paying the price' MORE asked Nadler, "If a head of a committee such as yours believes what you obviously believe, your duty in the Constitution is to start investigating to see if you have the facts for grounds for impeachment, and it is called an impeachment inquiry. Is that what you are doing right now?"

"It is not necessarily called an impeachment inquiry. That’s a made-up term without legal significance. It is, however, what we are doing," Nadler said.

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"We have been very clear for the last several months in filings with the court, in public statements, in official statements in the committee that we are conducting an investigation with the purpose, among other things, of determining whether to report articles of impeachment to the entire House," he continued.

"That’s exactly what we are doing. Whether you want to call it an impeachment investigation, impeachment inquiry or anything else, I’m frankly not interested in the nomenclature," he added.

Cuomo told Nadler he doesn’t "care what you call it either as long as you call it one thing," adding that "it seems that different people say different things within your own party and leadership."

"You can call it anything you want," Nadler responded. "The fact is we are doing what is our job under the Constitution, which is to conduct a series of hearings and an investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment."

Nadler’s comments come after inconsistent language among top Democrats has led to confusion over what the caucus is doing on impeachment as leaders try to balance meeting demands from their liberal base and protecting centrists in swing districts.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerThis week: Tensions flare over Schiff, impeachment inquiry House Republicans 'demand the release of the rules' on impeachment Scalise, Cole introduce resolution to change rules on impeachment MORE (D-Md.) on Wednesday walked back comments contradicting Judiciary Committee Democrats' assertion that they are in the midst of an impeachment inquiry, saying he supports the panel's investigative efforts.

Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Democrats say they have game changer on impeachment Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg would support delaying Libra | More attorneys general join Facebook probe | Defense chief recuses from 'war cloud' contract | Senate GOP blocks two election security bills | FTC brings case against 'stalking' app developer MORE (D-Calif.) has framed the panel’s activities as part of oversight that has been underway without making overt references to impeachment.

"We're legislating, we are investigating as we have been, and we are litigating. We are taking our information to court. That's the path we are on, and that's the path we will continue to be on," Pelosi told reporters Monday.

On Thursday, Pelosi defended Democrats' investigative approach and dismissed confusion surrounding the party's oversight message.

"Legislate, investigate, litigate. That's the path that we've been on, and that's the path we continue to be on," Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing in the Capitol.