The House Democratic chairman who would lead impeachment proceedings into President Donald Trump would not say Wednesday whether he is on the same page with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who opposes impeachment, saying the decision on impeachment would not be made “by any one individual.”
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” that it “may come to” beginning an impeachment inquiry, but asked whether he was on the same page as Pelosi — who has argued against the growing sentiment in her caucus on to launch an impeachment inquiry — Nadler did not answer directly.
“As I said, we are launching an inquiry now, and whether we’ll launch an impeachment inquiry, it may come to that,” Nadler said.
“When that decision has to be made, it will be made not by any one individual, it will be made probably by the caucus as a whole,” he added. “Certainly, Nancy will have the largest single voice in it, (and) various committee chairs and rank-and-file members.”
Nadler’s response underscores the tension that has spilled into the open within the Democratic caucus on impeachment. Fifty-nine Democrats have now publicly stated they want the House to begin an impeachment inquiry, and many of Nadler’s committee members are the most vocal proponents. But that has not swayed Pelosi from her argument that it’s too soon to consider impeachment.
Pelosi said Wednesday she’s “not feeling any pressure” to alter her position.
“We know exactly what path we’re on. We know exactly what actions we need to take. And while that may take more time than some people want to take, I respect their impatience. It’s a beautiful thing and it’s important,” Pelosi said. “So when you’re impeaching somebody, you want to make sure you have the strongest possible indictment. Because it’s not the means to the end that people think.”
Nadler echoed Pelosi’s position in his CNN interview, saying Congress had to get the facts out about the Mueller report.
“There does not appear to be the support for it now, and we will see, the support may develop,” Nadler said. “Right now, we have to get the facts out, we have to educate the American people, because after all, the American people have been lied to consistently by the President, by the attorney general, who have misrepresented what was in the Mueller report. That’s why it’s important for us to get Mueller to testify.”
Nadler ‘confident’ Mueller will testify
Earlier Wednesday, Nadler saidt hat he remains confident special counsel Robert Mueller will testify publicly soon, adding that he is prepared to issue a subpoena to Mueller if necessary.
Nadler would not give an explicit timetable for how long he would give Mueller before sending him a subpoena, but told reporters he wouldn’t wait too much longer.
“Let’s just say I’m confident he’ll come in soon,” Nadler said. “He has said he’s willing to come and testify and make an opening statement and come and testify behind closed doors. We’re not willing to do that. We want him to testify openly. I think the American people need that, I think frankly it’s his duty to the American people, and we’ll make that happen.”
Asked if he’ll issue a subpoena, Nadler said: “We will if we have to.”
In his first and only public statement during his two-year special counsel investigation last week, Mueller said that he did not want to testify, arguing that any testimony would not go beyond the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference and obstruction of justice. “The report is my testimony,” Mueller said.
But Democrats have argued that Mueller still needs to come in publicly, suggesting that his public testimony would help illuminate the report to a public that mostly hasn’t read the 448-page document.
Pelosi said Wednesday that the decision to subpoena Mueller would be up to the committee.
“Hopefully, he would accept an invitation to come,” Pelosi said. “Hopefully, if there is a subpoena, it would be friendly, and he will come. But we’ll see, it’s up to them.”
Nadler also said that he would not call off a planned contempt vote in the House next week for Attorney General William Barr in order to resume negotiations for the committee’s subpoena for the Mueller report and evidence. “No, that is certainly not happening. We have seen this movie before where they negotiate in bad faith and make ridiculous offers, they waste time,” he said.
The Justice Department wrote to Nadler Tuesday to say it would be willing to restart negotiations on providing a more narrow set of Mueller documents if the House scrap next week’s contempt vote, but Nadler responded with a letter rejecting that offer.
“They say they want to restart negotiations, and I’m perfectly happy to restart – not if it’s conditional on abandoning the contempt citations,” he added. “We must have those contempt citations because we have to arm ourselves because … the White House is really saying we’re not going to recognize Congress’ right to oversight.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.
CNN’s Clare Foran, Ashley Killough and Sunlen Serfaty contributed to this report.