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 NadlerBy questioning Barr, Democrats unmasked their policy of betrayal Chris Wallace: Barr hearing 'an embarrassment' for Democrats: 'Just wanted to excoriate him' Apple posts blowout third quarter MORE (D-N.Y.) on Friday defended Democrats' impeachment efforts against President TrumpDonald John TrumpMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Trump camp considering White House South Lawn for convention speech: reports Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary MORE, despite mixed messages from lawmakers describing what his panel is doing on the issue.

In an appearance on CNN, prime-time host Chris CuomoChris CuomoChris Cuomo blasts Trump over photo with Goya products: 'In the middle of a pandemic, they're selling beans' Democratic super PAC to launch 'Creepy Trump' TV ad St. Louis couple who pointed guns at protesters have a history of suing neighbors 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 HoyerGOP expects Senate to be in session next week without coronavirus deal This week: Negotiators hunt for coronavirus deal as August break looms The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Fauci gives his COVID-19 vaccine estimate 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 PelosiNegotiators hit gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mounts Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package 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.