Nadler: Trump payments are 'impeachable offense'

Jake Tapper is joined by likely incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, New York Congressman Jerry Nadler to discuss the possibility of impeaching Trump as the Mueller investigation continues.

Posted: Dec 10, 2018 5:14 PM
Updated: Dec 10, 2018 5:33 PM

Since the day he was sworn in as President, whispers have circulated in Washington that Donald Trump won't run again in 2020.

The logic goes like this: Trump can't stomach losing, or even the prospect of losing. Given where he is -- and has been -- in national polls, losing is a very real possibility. Faced with such an unacceptable rejection, Trump will walk away -- proclaiming that his work as President is fully accomplished -- after a single term.

I've never, ever believed that theory for a simple reason: Trump has spent his entire life clamoring for the limelight and the recognition -- grudging or otherwise -- that being president affords him. Why would he EVER walk away from that?

Now, after the events of last Friday, Trump has even more incentive to stay in office: Because a sitting president can't be indicted.

Here's what we learned on Friday:

1) The Southern District of New York made clear that they believe Trump directed and coordinated, during the 2016 campaign, two illegal hush money payments to women alleging him of conducting extramarital affairs with them. Ex-Trump lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen has already pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations tied to these payment directed to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. It's clear from the filings last Friday that prosecutors believe Cohen.

2) In November 2015, a Russian national spoke with Cohen and attempted to offer "political synergy" with the Trump campaign (Mueller's office said Cohen didn't pursue the outreach).

3) One-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort broke his plea agreement by staying in touch with White House officials long past the point we knew prior. According to CNN's write-up of the Manafort allegations, "[special counsel Robert] Mueller can show, including with text messages, that Manafort was in contact with Trump administration officials early this year -- even after he was indicted in late 2017."

"My takeaway is there's a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first President in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time," said incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, D-California, on Sunday.

The key in Schiff's statement -- at least at it relates to Trump and 2020 -- is this: "My takeaway is there's a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office the Justice Department may indict him."

"On the day Donald Trump leaves office."

Why does that matter? Because it comports with established Justice Department guidelines that say that a sitting president cannot be indicted. "All they get to do is write a report," Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told CNN about Mueller's team. "They can't indict. At least they acknowledged that to us after some battling, they acknowledged that to us."

The guideline dates back to Richard Nixon and was solidified during Bill Clinton's presidency. It's possible that if Mueller found criminal wrongdoing directly tied to Trump that he might challenge those rules, but it seems very unlikely at the moment.

All of which means that the safest place for Trump -- even as the walls continue to close in around him and it becomes clear just how many people in his orbit had interactions with Russian officials during the campaign and the transition -- is in the White House. He is, again if longstanding guidelines apply, in a legal safe space as long as he is President.

The danger for Trump then -- at least in the near-term -- is if House Democrats, soon to be in the majority, use the findings of Mueller's report to pursue impeachment charges against him. New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming head of the Judiciary Committee, already believes there is enough evidence in the public domain to consider impeachment.

Of the allegations that Trump purposely skirted campaign finance laws in making hush money payments to Daniels and McDougal, Nadler said Sunday on CNN:

"They would be impeachable offenses. Whether they're important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question. Certainly, they're impeachable offenses, because, even though they were committed before the President became President, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office."

But if House Democrats did go the impeachment route -- and incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has warned against doing so -- there is no guarantee that would knock Trump out of office. Why? Because the Senate's job in impeachment is to try the case. Republicans control 53 Senate seats and -- as Democrats did after House Republicans voted for Bill Clinton's impeachment -- could simply vote down the House measure, assuming they all stayed united.

What's Trump's best way to ensure that he has an open channel to Senate Republicans? Stick around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Simply put: There is every political and legal reason for Trump to stay right where he is -- for as as long as he possibly can.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 540277

Reported Deaths: 7022
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1125861667
Ramsey46611846
Dakota41151414
Anoka37226413
Washington24233273
Stearns20532215
St. Louis16380295
Scott15455116
Wright14317124
Olmsted1256996
Sherburne1020879
Carver946043
Clay765189
Rice7408100
Blue Earth676840
Kandiyohi618879
Crow Wing591786
Chisago535648
Otter Tail531673
Benton518396
Mower446032
Winona434549
Douglas432170
Goodhue429871
Nobles396147
Morrison382859
McLeod381154
Beltrami365057
Isanti360159
Polk358966
Itasca356851
Steele346614
Becker344848
Lyon341848
Carlton322152
Freeborn319429
Pine305321
Nicollet298542
Brown289139
Mille Lacs269547
Le Sueur265022
Todd264830
Cass241426
Meeker227037
Waseca225820
Martin209029
Wabasha19793
Roseau194018
Dodge16794
Hubbard167641
Renville167443
Redwood163335
Houston161814
Cottonwood151420
Fillmore15039
Pennington148419
Chippewa143636
Faribault141619
Wadena139820
Sibley132110
Aitkin126736
Kanabec124921
Watonwan12429
Rock120918
Jackson113010
Yellow Medicine108218
Pipestone107225
Murray10149
Pope9906
Swift97118
Marshall83717
Stevens79010
Lake77819
Wilkin75412
Clearwater75314
Koochiching74312
Lac qui Parle73022
Big Stone5544
Lincoln5532
Grant5388
Norman5119
Mahnomen4898
Unassigned48578
Kittson44322
Red Lake3796
Traverse3585
Lake of the Woods2932
Cook1440

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 354875

Reported Deaths: 5797
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk55489598
Linn20153329
Scott18692234
Black Hawk15460306
Woodbury14773219
Johnson1384380
Dubuque13023202
Dallas1082196
Pottawattamie10612160
Story1024447
Warren548286
Clinton530789
Cerro Gordo518586
Webster506091
Sioux502673
Marshall476274
Muscatine454796
Des Moines439065
Wapello4245120
Buena Vista420940
Jasper406270
Plymouth393779
Lee366655
Marion353975
Jones292055
Henry285337
Bremer278260
Carroll277650
Crawford261539
Boone256131
Benton248955
Washington247849
Dickinson238643
Mahaska223049
Jackson216842
Kossuth211461
Clay208325
Tama206371
Delaware200939
Winneshiek192533
Page189020
Buchanan187331
Cedar182623
Fayette182641
Wright178635
Hardin178542
Hamilton176949
Harrison174673
Clayton165355
Butler161834
Mills157420
Cherokee156438
Floyd154342
Lyon153541
Poweshiek152133
Madison151919
Allamakee149051
Iowa144624
Hancock142634
Winnebago135331
Grundy134832
Cass133954
Calhoun133011
Jefferson130535
Emmet127140
Shelby126537
Louisa126049
Appanoose125847
Sac125819
Mitchell125241
Union123732
Chickasaw122015
Humboldt117926
Guthrie116728
Franklin112321
Palo Alto109622
Howard102622
Unassigned10030
Montgomery99737
Clarke98023
Keokuk94330
Monroe93128
Ida88533
Adair84032
Pocahontas83021
Monona80430
Davis79824
Greene76310
Lucas74822
Osceola73716
Worth6978
Taylor64812
Fremont60410
Decatur5889
Van Buren55318
Ringgold53322
Wayne51823
Audubon4939
Adams3264
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 36°
Mason City
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 35°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 37°
Austin
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 39°
Charles City
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 37°
Drier conditions for the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events