McCarthy says hush payments aren't impeachable offenses

"So to me, they're trying to find a case for a — for a problem that doesn't exist," McCarthy added.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., meets with reporters on Capitol Hill on Feb. 28, 2019.J. Scott Applewhite / AP
By Allan Smith

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told ABC's "This Week" that the hush payments President Donald Trump's former longtime attorney Michael Cohen made to two women before the 2016 presidential election "aren't impeachable" offenses.

Cohen pleaded guilty last year to a pair of campaign-finance violations among a longer list of felony charges. Those violations stemmed from hush money payments he made just before the 2016 election to silence two women who allege past affairs with Trump. Federal prosecutors alleged that Trump directed those payments.

This week, during his public testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Cohen provided a pair of checks he said were reimbursements he received in 2017 for the hush payment to one of the women, porn star Stormy Daniels. One check was signed by the president and the other was signed by Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg. Both were for $35,000.

"Listen, you know what concerns me? If you hire an attorney — if I hire an attorney to make sure I carry out the law, the attorney has a responsibility to tell me what's right and wrong in the process," McCarthy said. "I watched — this is a — if it’s a finance campaign, those are fines. Those aren’t impeachable in the process."

McCarthy added that other politicians have done "this exact same thing in the past."

"So to me, they're trying to find a case for a — for a problem that doesn't exist," he said.

Responding to comments by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler on the same program, McCarthy said he thought Nadler "decided to impeach the president the day the president won the election."

Impeachment proceedings, if they were to take place, would begin in Nadler's committee.

"He talks about impeachment before he even became chairman and then he says you’ve got to persuade people to get there," McCarthy said. "There’s nothing that the president did wrong."

"In this process to be impeached, show me where the president did anything to be impeached," he continued.

Nadler, D-N.Y., said Sunday that Cohen "directly implicated the president" in "various crimes," adding that the hush payments were "the major one."

"Impeachment is a long way down the road," he said. "We don’t have the facts yet, but we’re going to initiate proper investigations."

Allan Smith

Allan Smith is a political reporter for NBC News.