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 NadlerJudiciary members battle over whether GOP treated fairly in impeachment hearings Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers MORE (D-N.Y.) on Friday defended Democrats' impeachment efforts against President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed 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 CuomoMcCabe: Being accused of treason by Trump 'quite honestly terrifying' Former FBI general counsel wants apology from Trump Young Turks founder: Past remarks on women were attempt 'to be a stupid, politically incorrect Republican' 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 HoyerMedia organization fights Trump administration over Ukraine documents FOIA On The Money: Trump, China announce 'Phase One' trade deal | Supreme Court takes up fight over Trump financial records | House panel schedules hearing, vote on new NAFTA deal House panel to hold hearing, vote on Trump's new NAFTA proposal 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 PelosiTrump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Sherrod Brown backs new North American trade deal: 'This will be the first trade agreement I've ever voted for' Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Turf war derails push on surprise medical bills | Bill would tax e-cigarettes to pay for anti-vaping campaign | .5M ad blitz backs vulnerable Dems on drug prices 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.