Nadler: Judiciary panel could reach impeachment decision by late fall

Nadler: Judiciary panel could reach impeachment decision by late fall
© Greg Nash

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerJudiciary members battle over whether GOP treated fairly in impeachment hearings Live coverage: House panel debates articles of impeachment House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday said that his committee could decide whether to move forward with articles of impeachment against President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Vulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Trump appears to set personal record for tweets in a day MORE by late fall of this year but cautioned that such a decision requires certain conditions.

"If we decide to report articles of impeachment, we could get to that in the late fall perhaps — in the latter part of the year," Nadler said in an appearance on MSNBC.

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Nadler presented the rough timeline shortly after House Democrats crossed a threshold last week, in which a majority of the caucus — 118 — has voiced support for launching an impeachment inquiry to formally examine whether the president has committed "high crimes and misdemeanors."

The New York Democrat indicated that this decision would be made after court rulings on several cases, including Democrats' efforts to obtain redacted information from former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House panel debates articles of impeachment Trump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts MORE's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election a nd whether to enforce the panel's subpoena against former White House counsel Don McGahn and other former aides, who have declined to testify about their time in the administration at the request of the White House.

"The calendar is whatever it is," Nadler said. "We can't let the election calendar dictate. I think that we will probably get the court decisions by the end of October. We will have hearings in September and October who are witnesses not dependent on the court proceedings and we will do it through the fall."

Nadler also noted that three key ingredients must exist before moving forward with articles of impeachment: The committee must be able to prove the president committed impeachable offenses, answer whether they reach the threshold of serious impeachable offenses and have the support of the American people.

Polls currently indicate that a majority of U.S. citizens do not favor impeachment, but Nadler thinks his committee's work will likely change their minds.

"We will hold these hearings. We will get the support of the American people or we won't. I suspect we will," Nadler said. 

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiVulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Photographer leaves Judiciary hearing after being accused of taking photos of member notes Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices | Senate confirms Trump FDA pick | Trump officials approve Medicaid work requirements in South Carolina MORE (D-Calif.) has opposed launching an impeachment inquiry and instead sought to focus Democrats' energy on their investigations into Trump and his administration.

But even if House ultimately decided to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump, Democrats would face a far more difficult time seeking to convince the GOP-controlled Senate of removing Trump from office. 

Republicans have blasted Nadler and his probe for seeking a partisan investigation, particularly in an attempt to hurt Trump ahead of 2020. Democrats say it is their duty to conduct oversight.

Late last month, Nadler and others heralded the testimony of Mueller as a resounding success, despite Democrats privately saying the high-profile hearing in many ways failed to match their hope and expectations.

Still, Nadler, who jabbed the press for initially acting like "theater critics" over the Mueller's testimony, called it an "inflection point."

While the former FBI chief did not present any new evidence during the hearings — and oftentimes gave basic or one-word answers — he did confirm on camera that his investigation did not exonerate the president of obstruction of justice. Mueller also emphasized Russia's active efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, while describing the Trump encouraging WikiLeaks to publish damaging information on his opponent as "problematic."

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrHolder rips into William Barr: 'He is unfit to lead the Justice Department' Five takeaways on Horowitz's testimony on Capitol Hill Budowsky: Would John McCain back impeachment? MORE and other Justice Department officials ultimately decided the evidence on obstruction did not reach the threshold to conclude the president committed a crime.

Mueller's investigation ultimately did not find sufficient evidence that members of the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia.

But Democrats say it is now in the hands of Congress to make that determination, and they will continue to collect evidence in order to do so.

"The Mueller report was the summary of the evidence, we don't have the evidence," Nadler said on MSNBC. "We will get the evidence in public hearings in front of the American people and then we will see about the conclusions."