Nadler: Trump Committed 'Massive Frauds Against the American People'; Could Be Impeachable Offenses

By Susan Jones | December 10, 2018 | 4:47am EST
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) will chair the House Judiciary Committee in the next Congress. (Getty photo/Drew Angerer)

( - Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday it appears that President Donald Trump "was at the center of a massive fraud -- several massive frauds against the American people."

"And it's now our job, the job of the Justice Department...the special counsel, and the Congress to get to the bottom of this, to find out exactly what was going on, to find out the extent of the president's involvement, to find out basically what the president knew and when did he know it, so that we can then hold him accountable," Nadler said.

This follows a court filing on Friday by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York in the case of Michael Cohen, president Trump's former personal attorney.

The court filing mentions pre-election payments to two women who said they had extra-marital affairs with Trump.

According to that court filing: "With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election in particular. And, as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual 1," prosecutors wrote.

Individual 1 is Donald Trump, who publicly has denied knowing anything about hush money paid to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

"Are those impeachable offenses?" Tapper asked Nadler, whose committee would be the one to bring impeachment proceedings against the president.

Well, they would be impeachable offenses," Nadler said. "Whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question. But, certainly, they would be impeachable offenses, because, even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office. That would be the -- that would be an impeachable offense.

But the fact of the matter is that what we see from these indictments and charging statements is a much broader conspiracy against the American people involving these payments, involving an attempt to influence the campaign improperly, with improper payments involving the Russians trying to get influence in the campaign, involving the president lying for an entire year about his ongoing business arrangements, business dealings with the Russians, involving obstruction of justice.

All of these have to be looked at very seriously by the Congress, by the special counsel, and by the Justice Department and to see what actions we should then take.

And what is clear also is that the Republican Congress absolutely tried to shield the president. The new Congress will not try to shield the president. We will try to get to the bottom of this, in order to serve the American people and to stop this massive conspiracy -- this massive fraud on the American people.

Nadler said it's important to consider what impeachable offenses were committed and how many: "And secondly, how important were they? Do they rise to the gravity where you should undertake an impeachment?" he asked. "Any impeachment is an attempt to, in effect, overturn or change the result of the last election. And you should do it only for very serious situations. So, that's always the question."

(Democrats railed against Republican attempts to impeach President Bill Clinton for lying about his extra-marital affair with Monica Lewinsky.)

Nadler told Tapper he's not ruling out impeachment in Trump's situation: "I said we have to get to the bottom of all of this."

He said there are considerations beyond hush-money:

We have to find out exactly what was going on. We have to look at these crimes, and what did the president know and when did he know about these crimes? You have to look at the Russian interference with the campaign, and what did the president know about that, and to what extent did he cooperate with that, if he did?

We have to look at his business dealings and his lying about that. We have to look at the fact that he surrounded himself with crooks. His campaign manager, his deputy campaign manager, his national security adviser, all of them, and a host, a bunch of other people, they all were meeting with the Russians. They all expressed interest in meeting again.

None of them reported it to the proper authorities. They have all been indicted for one crime or another. The president invent -- created his own swamp and brought it to the White House. These are all very serious things.

And we have to get to the bottom of this, find out what all the facts are, we and the special counsel, and then make decisions.

Nadler said he disagrees with Justice Department that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Some experts say an indictment would have to wait until the president leaves office.

"There's nothing in the Constitution that prohibits a president from being indicted," Nadler said. "Nobody, not the president, not anybody else, can be above the law. And there's no reason to think that the president should not be indicted. The reason given by the Office of Legal Counsel is that it would take up too much of his time, he couldn't do his job.

"But, you know, the Constitution specifically allows an impeachment. That certainly takes up a lot of time for the president. So, I don't agree that a president can't be indicted."

President Trump continued with his "no collusion" tweets over the weekend, but so far, he has not directly addressed the court filing that alleges he directed Cohen to buy the silence of two women with whom he allegedly had affairs to avoid an election-year controversy.

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