Jeffries, Nadler showcase different NY styles in Trump trial

Jeffries, Nadler showcase different NY styles in Trump trial
© Greg Nash

Call it their good cop-bad cop schtick.

Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesLawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts On The Money: Fed chief warns Congress on deficits | Trump blames Powell after Dow dips slightly | Trump withdraws nomination of former US attorney for Treasury post Jeffries: Trump budget is a 'declaration of war on the American dream' MORE and Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTrump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify Nadler demands answers from Barr on 'new channel' for receiving Ukraine info from Giuliani Trump predicts Ocasio-Cortez will launch primary bid against Schumer MORE, two New York City Democrats serving as House prosecutors in the Senate impeachment trial, have very different styles but the same objective: trying to persuade some Republicans to vote to convict President TrumpDonald John TrumpComey responds to Trump with Mariah Carey gif: 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' Congress to get election security briefing next month amid Intel drama New York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff MORE.

Their contrasting styles have been on full display as lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffCongress to get election security briefing next month amid Intel drama New York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff The Hill's Morning Report — Sanders, Dems zero in on Super Tuesday MORE’s (D-Calif.) Democratic prosecution team made its opening arguments during three long days in the upper chamber this week.

Nadler, a veteran Jewish American lawmaker from the Upper West Side, has been a pit bull for the prosecution, accusing the 53 GOP senators in the chamber of being accomplices in Trump’s “cover-up” — an allegation that infuriated the very Republicans that Nadler’s team is trying to cajole.


Jeffries, an African American lawmaker from Brooklyn, launched an impeachment charm offensive, disarming senators by quoting rapper Notorious B.I.G. and cracking a Derek Jeter joke that elicited chuckles on both sides of the aisle.

Neither Democratic approach appears to changing any GOP minds.

“I think they would be better as trial lawyers than in the business of Congress. They struck me as being somewhat polished, but I’m pretty astute in trying to distill if there is anything new, and I did not see it,” Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunOvernight Health Care: Ernst endorses bipartisan bill to lower drug prices | US partnering with drugmakers on coronavirus vaccine | UN chief says virus poses 'enormous' risks Senators, bruised by impeachment, hunt for deals Plan to probe Bidens sparks GOP divisions MORE (R-Ind.) told The Hill on Friday.

Asked about Jeffries’s Jeter joke, Braun quipped: “It’s hard for me to laugh in such a somber setting. It was a nice attempt though.”

Nadler and Jeffries are just two of the seven members of the Democratic team. But the pair of powerful New Yorkers generated scores of headlines this week after their presentations to the Senate, where they argued Trump should be removed from office for pressuring Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election and trying to hinder the House’s investigation.

On Day One of opening arguments, Nadler was the last Democrat to speak but he came out swinging. In an impassioned speech, he accused GOP senators of voting for a “cover-up” if they block subpoenas for witnesses and documents; he called it “obviously a treacherous vote.” 


White House counsel Pat Cipollone demanded an apology from Nadler. Moderate Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe new American center Democratic Senate campaign arm raised more than .5 million in January On the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump MORE (R-Maine), whom Democrats are trying to sway, was so upset she wrote a note to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts questioning whether Nadler had violated Senate rules with his pointed remarks, Politico reported. Roberts then intervened and admonished both sides — handing Trump allies an opening and putting Democratic colleagues back on their heels.

“It didn’t help his cause. When you are getting admonished by the Supreme Court chief justice for what you say,” Rep. Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinTrump allies blast Romney over impeachment vote: 'A sore loser' Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Democrats seek to preempt Trump message on health care | E-cigarette executives set for grilling | Dems urge emergency funding for coronavirus Democrats slam GOP on drug prices in bilingual digital ads MORE (R-N.Y.), a Long Island lawmaker who serves on Trump’s impeachment team, told The Hill. “That was a pretty rough start.”

Rep. Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump basks in acquittal; Dems eye recanvass in Iowa Trump holds White House 'celebration' for impeachment acquittal Trump on Jim Jordan: 'He's obviously very proud of his body' MORE, another New York Republican who’s part of Trump’s team, called Nadler’s unforced error “a weak moment for Democrats,” one that caused “fissures” between Nadler and Schiff. Democrats have downplayed any divisions.

But Nadler, the Judiciary Committee chairman who cut his teeth decades ago as a state legislator in Albany, didn’t back down from the fight. The very next day, he came at Trump’s chief defenders again, playing old video clips of Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBarr to attend Senate GOP lunch on Tuesday GOP lawmaker makes unannounced trip to northeastern Syria Graham: Trump has 'all the legal authority in the world' to pardon Stone MORE (R-S.C.) and Trump attorney Alan DershowitzAlan Morton DershowitzA disgraced Senate and president have no business confirming judges Dershowitz files defamation suit against Boies, alleging extortion Sunday shows - 2020 Democrats make closing arguments in New Hampshire MORE that contradicted their argument that only a violation of the criminal code could be considered an impeachable offense.

His Day Two performance won kudos from within his own party. One Democratic source involved with the impeachment team called Nadler’s presentation “clear-eyed, smart and effective.”

“I thought Rep. Nadler did an excellent job showing how the president doesn't need to have committed a criminal offense to be impeached and removed from office — reflecting on what impeachment meant to the Founding Fathers,” added Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNew York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff Top GOP super PAC spent money on NC Democrat Hillicon Valley: Intel officials warned lawmakers Russia interfering in 2020 | Pompeo condemns Russian cyberattack on country of Georgia | Tech activists see Kickstarter union as breakthrough | Pentagon agency suffers data breach MORE (D-N.Y), who has known Nadler for decades.

On Day Three of Democratic arguments, Nadler was back in attack mode, labeling Trump a “dictator” on the Senate floor.

“This is a determination by President Trump that he wants to be all powerful, he does not have to respect the Congress, he does not have to respect the representatives of the people. Only his will goes. He is a dictator,” Nadler said as he concluded his remarks Friday. 

“This must not stand and that is another reason he must be removed from office."

For Nadler, 72, this historical political moment — the impeachment of his longtime adversary, Trump, as he holds the prized Judiciary gavel — probably represents the pinnacle of a remarkable 50-year career in law and politics. 

Jeffries, not yet 50, is still climbing. Viewed on Capitol Hill as Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCongress to get election security briefing next month amid Intel drama New York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff Twitter, Facebook split on manipulated Bloomberg video MORE’s possible heir apparent, the unflappable chairman of the House Democratic Caucus is a disciplined messenger and talented orator. His turn in the impeachment spotlight is helping to raise his national profile; Jeffries was prominently featured in a front-page photo in The New York Times on Friday. 

“If you don’t know, now you know,” Jeffries said on the Senate floor in his distinct staccato delivery, quoting the famous rap song “Juicy” in a reference that went over the heads of most of the grey-haired senators.

But senators and the American public also got a glimpse this week of Jeffries’s disarming sense of humor. As senators began nodding off, Jeffries, a former corporate lawyer, tried to revive them with a light-hearted story about a fellow New Yorker who asked if he had heard the “latest outrage.”

Was it about Trump? Jeffries asked. 

No, the man replied. One anonymous person “voted against Derek Jeter on his Hall of Fame ballot,” depriving the Yankees slugger of a unanimous vote. 

Jeffries said he hoped the two parties could agree to subpoena witnesses like John BoltonJohn Bolton'Parasite' studio fires back after Trump criticism: 'He can't read' Trump swipes at 'little wise guy' Brad Pitt, Korean film 'Parasite' during rally Bolton on impeachment: 'My testimony would have made no difference to the ultimate outcome' MORE and Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyMulvaney confirms he'd have to take a pay cut to be permanent White House chief of staff The Hill's Morning Report — Sanders, Dems zero in on Super Tuesday Issues with CDC coronavirus test pose challenges for expanded screening MORE, “but perhaps we can all agree to subpoena the Baseball Hall of Fame.”

The punchline drew hearty laughter from Democrats, polite laughter from Republicans. 

Zeldin's team has been watching the trial from Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceRivals worry Sanders building 'insurmountable' Super Tuesday lead Trump looms as flashpoint in Alabama Senate battle Stephen Miller's uncle says he donated to pro-refugee group as a wedding gift MORE’s ceremonial office just off the Senate floor.

“I happen to be a Mets fan. I even have my Mets colors on,” Zeldin said Friday, pointing to his bright orange tie. “Even as a Mets fan who despises the Yankees, everyone wants to know where that one vote came from.”