House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said Sunday that President Donald Trump "richly deserves impeachment," but maintained that it was too soon to begin formal impeachment proceedings.
"He has done many impeachable offenses," Nadler said on CNN's "State of the Union." "He's violated the law six ways from Sunday. But that's not the question. The question is, can we develop enough evidence to put before the American people? We have broken the logjam."
The debate over whether to launch an impeachment inquiry has divided congressional Democrats. Following former special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony on Capitol Hill this week, the total number of House Democrats supporting impeachment has neared 100. House leadership, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has repeatedly demurred.
While many Democrats hoped Mueller's testimony would shift the debate on impeachment within the Democratic caucus, his hours of testimony — while amplifying some of the more damning portions of his more than 440-page report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia and if Trump obstructed justice — did not cause any major shift in the discussion.
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Calling Mueller's testimony "an inflection point," Nadler said that "it showed quite clearly that the report did not exonerate the president ... And we now have to get further evidence and put it before the American people as we consider articles of impeachment in the committee.”
"There was very damning evidence put forward on the record," Nadler said. "And I think, as the American people understand that, as people absorb that information, as we bring out more evidence, people will understand the gravity of the situation. It's not one that can be ignored."
It is within Nadler's committee that such an impeachment inquiry would begin. Though he has vocally expressed support for impeachment, Nadler has remained in line with Pelosi, who has advocated against beginning an impeachment inquiry until Democrats have the "strongest" hand possible. Neither have given a specific timeline on when such proceedings could theoretically occur.
In court filings submitted late last week to obtain grand jury information from Mueller's probe, Nadler's committee wrote that "articles of impeachment are under consideration as part of the Committee’s investigation, although no final determination has been made”
"There are articles of impeachment that have been recommended to the committee," Nadler said on Sunday. "And we are investigating and determining whether we should report those articles to the House. That's exactly what we're doing."
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., defended Democratic leadership's strategy regarding possible impeachment in an interview on Sunday with NBC's "Meet the Press."
“I worry equally about the message of taking an impeachment case to trial, losing that case, having the president acquitted, and then having an adjudication that this conduct is not impeachable,” he said.
"The jury I'm most worried about, not the Senate because I think that's a preordained conclusion, is the American people," Schiff added. "Can we make the case to the American people? I want to make sure that's true before we go down that path because it's going to occupy a year of the nation's time."