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 NadlerNadler floats John Kelly as potential impeachment witness Fox's Wallace: Nadler would pay to have his Clinton impeachment remarks 'expunged from the Earth' Pelosi says House will vote on bill to repeal travel ban MORE (D-N.Y.) on Friday defended Democrats' impeachment efforts against President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet 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 CuomoMedia's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle Tucker Carlson delivers program's largest audience during Iranian missile strike coverage Judge Judy dismisses Biden: 'Do you see greatness?' 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 HoyerHouse Democrats push back on Trump's efforts to take credit for the economy This week: Senate barrels toward showdown on impeachment witnesses The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clash over rules 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 PelosiDemocrats offer mixed reactions to Trump's Mideast peace plan James Taylor to perform at awards ceremony for Ruth Bader Ginsburg this week Trump offers two-state peace plan for Israeli-Palestinian conflict amid skepticism 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.