An ‘Unstoppable Push’; Cranky Matthews Badgers Nadler from the Left on Impeachment

With an embarrassing technical problem to boot, MSNBC’s Hardball featured on Thursday night an irascible host Chris Matthews nagging House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) to fulfill the wishes of his constituents (which includes CNN and other media organizations in dark-blue Manhattan) to see through “this unstoppable push” for impeachment.

One knew that this would be an intriguing interview when Matthews started by buttering Nadler up with compliments before going hard: “Congressman, I had spent a good part of my life working for politicians. I respect you guys a lot. I understand the pressures that come from leadership, the pressures that come from home. And I guess my question is at what point do you have to resolve the question, to impeach or not?”

 

 

Nadler provided a boilerplate answer about the President being a criminal, which then allowed Matthews to begin badgering him about a timetable in comparison to Watergate, leaving them between August 2019 to August 2020 to get the job done.

Not satisfied with Nadler’s assurances there’s still time to gather more evidence, Matthews screeched (click “expand”):

MATTHEWS: I thought you got the right — a lot of information in the first couple of questions and you got him to admit the President lied about being exonerated. There’s information pretty much up front there about the Russian role. It seems to me that the lion’s share of what you have to prove, you guys and women up there on the Hill have done that. It’s done —

NADLER: Well, the lion — no.

MATTHEWS: — thanks to the work done by the special — what more —

NADLER: A lot of it...

MATTHEWS: — my question is — go ahead. I’m sorry.

(....)

MATTHEWS: But — but you’re talking about what you would like to get done. You’d like to hear from McGahn. You might like to get the President’s tax returns. But, if you don’t, the clock is moving. It’s this fall. You’ve got six weeks less this year, and then you have next year, in a presidential election year. I’m just wondering whether Nancy Pelosi, as good-hearted as she is about this, is basically playing for time, that, eventually, you’re going to say, it’s too late.

Now, another sign that a host is fired up about an issue and/or peeved with their guest is when the questions either shorten or drag out. 

For Matthews, the next two were both dragged out. The first fretted that, as a Congressman from a “big city district,” his constituents want impeachment, so it’s now or never: 

When is the day of reckoning between those forces, which you represent, actually, personally, the forces that want to see impeachment, and the leadership? When does the unstoppable push for this reach the hard place of — there has got to be a reckoning date, doesn’t there have to be, or this is going to slip away into 2021?

Still perturbed, Matthews expressed fear Trump could “[get] away with this whole thing”:

When will you decide that it’s time for you to do that, no matter what the speaker believes, that you have to make a decision, as a political figure yourself, you have to move? Because if this goes by, and Trump stays in office and gets reelected, and history says he got away with this whole thing, the whole engagement, this whole in bed with the Russian, all this awful stuff, and he never even gets voted on for impeachment, he will have won, and your side will have lost.

It was during the next question that Nadler appeared to mutter and look at off screen (presumably about not being able to hear Matthews) and it awkwardly took Matthews a while to catch up (click “expand”):

What’s more important to the people of your district on the West Side of New York, impeaching this President for what he has clearly done, and you know he has done — and you have said it so loud — or holding the House in the next election? What’s more important? Can you pick up — we’ve got a problem, a technical problem, Mr. Chairman. We’re waiting to get Jerry Nadler back, the chair. We’re going to take a break right now. We will be right back, hopefully, with the congressman from New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Returning from that break, Matthews fretted as a former Tip O’Neill aide that the roles in the House have been reversed from Watergate as it’s the House Judiciary Committee chairman (Nadler) who’s pushing impeachment with the Speaker Pelosi holding him back.

When Nadler disagreed, the liberal pundit hit back (click “expand”): 

MATTHEWS: So I’m wrong in reading you, sir? I read you every day as really wanting to move. If it was just up to your gut, your feeling about the country, your feeling about what this President has done this the country —

NADLER: My feeling — my feeling —

MATTHEWS: --- what does your feeling say about this guy? Does he deserve to go?

NADLER: — oh, does he deserve to go? Of course he deserves to go. But the question is what I said a minute ago. And we have to finish the job of getting, of amassing enough evidence before the American people, so that we can meet that three-part test.

MATTHEWS: If it comes to New Year’s 2020, can we still do it?

NADLER: If it comes — yes, we — yes. I — I —

MATTHEWS: Can you start it next year?

Fortunately for Nadler, Matthews ended the interview soon after by gushing that the Democrats “did a really good job” with the Mueller hearing as for “[w]hatever slowness there was on the part of the witness is just, you know, life,” but “if you listened to the highlights yesterday, you got your — you got the payload” and “proof” to impeach.

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on July 25, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
July 25, 2019
7:18 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Congressman, I had spent a good part of my life working for politicians. I respect you guys a lot. I understand the pressures that come from leadership, the pressures that come from home. And I guess my question is at what point do you have to resolve the question, to impeach or not?

CONGRESSMAN JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Well, we have to start by looking at where we are and where we are is, as you said, that the special prosecutor found that the President welcomed the Russian interference in our election on his behalf, that he welcomed it and he benefitted from it, and that he then lied to the American people and covered it up, that he committed a number of acts of — between five on ten acts of criminal obstruction of justice, and at least five of them, all three elements of the crimes are met, and he instructed other people to lie to the American people on his behalf. Our next step, and those are the findings of the special prosecutor, we now have to lay out the evidence for the American people of all these crimes by the President and of the — of the failure of the President to protect us against the ongoing Russian attack on our elections. That’s our next step, and that’s what we’re going to do as our next step.

MATTHEWS: Well, let’s take a look at the — I know you must think about this all the time. It’s now almost August. When Richard Nixon, the House Judiciary Committee got authorization to move on impeachment against him was in February of ‘74, he resigned in August. That’s about six months. How many months would you need to move a case to the Senate? In other words, to move an impeachment if you succeed, how many months would it take? You’ve got from August now to maybe next August, right?

NADLER: Well, I don’t know how many months that would take. But I do know what we have to do next. And we face the challenge that was not faced 20 years or 40 years ago, and that is that the President and the administration have systematically blocked information from Congress, have systematically opposed all subpoenas, and not only on — on — on — on the malfeasance of the administration and of the Trump campaign, but also on things like family separation at the border, the rigging of the census, and everything else. Now, this, we have to break that logjam, so that we can get the evidence before the American people, and we’re going to court to do that, in fact, tomorrow.

MATTHEWS: I thought you got the right — a lot of information in the first couple of questions and you got him to admit the president lied about being exonerated. There’s information pretty much up front there about the Russian role. It seems to me that the lion’s share of what you have to prove, you guys and women up there on the Hill have done that. It’s done —

NADLER: Well, the lion — no.

MATTHEWS: — thanks to the work done by the special — what more —

NADLER: A lot of it...

MATTHEWS: — my question is — go ahead. I’m sorry.

NADLER: A lot of it is done, but a lot of it is still undone. We — the American people have to hear directly, for example, from Don McGahn, as to — and he has to testify in front of that -- in front of Congress, so that he can say what the President said to him, what illegal instructions the President said to him. We have to hear from other witnesses who testified to Mueller, but we need to hear and the American people need to hear their testimony directly. This has been blocked and we’re going court to unblock it.

MATTHEWS: But — but you’re talking about what you would like to get done. You’d like to hear from McGahn. You might like to get the President’s tax returns. But, if you don’t, the clock is moving. It’s this fall. You’ve got —

NADLER: Well, I think — I think — I —

MATTHEWS: — six weeks less this year, and then you have next year, in a presidential election year. I’m just wondering whether Nancy Pelosi, as good-hearted as she is about this, is basically playing for time, that, eventually, you’re going to say, it’s too late.

NADLER: I don’t think she is playing for time. We have to do our work and I don’t think there are only six weeks left. There is nothing that says we can’t go to court and do — and hold hearings during the August recess. We’re not going to just go on vacation for the next six weeks, but we have to lay out this — this information for the American people, so that they can join us in agreeing on whatever — on what we have to do.

MATTHEWS: You have got about 80-some — sometimes, it rises to 90-some members of your caucus, Democratic caucus, who want to see impeachment proceedings again. You have got people, I’m sure in your district — any big city district, I think it’s fair to say, there are people pushing for something to happen. When is the day of reckoning between those forces, which you represent, actually, personally, the forces that want to see impeachment, and the leadership? When does the unstoppable push for this reach the hard place of — there has got to be a reckoning date, doesn’t there have to be, or this is going to slip away into 2021?

NADLER: Well, I don’t — I don’t — no, this cannot — deciding what we’re going to do about this administration and about the crimes that have been committed and making sure that they can’t happen again, and that the attack on Congress’ power to oversee this or any other administration is not successful, cannot wait until 2021 and I can’t give you a hard date, but I know the work that has to be done, and we’re going to be doing it.

MATTHEWS: Do you know how long it would take you to move proceedings once they begin to the Senate? How long would it take you to get a vote?

NADLER: No, I don’t. What I’m worried about now is how long — is how fast we can get these cases through the court and the key is the — the grand jury information which we’re asking for tomorrow, and the enforcement of the subpoena to McGahn, which will set the stage for everyone else, because the — the same nonsense legal arguments that they’re using on McGahn are the same arguments they’re using on all the others and we will win in court and we will win fairly quickly, I think, because they are nonsense legal arguments and then the floodgates will open.

MATTHEWS: You have some — you have authority here, Mr. Chairman. You said the other day that you have the power, as a chair — and the other chairs do too who are investigating — to initiate impeachment proceedings. When will you decide that it’s time for you to do that, no matter what the speaker believes, that you have to make a decision, as a political figure yourself, you have to move? Because if this goes by, and Trump stays in office and gets reelected, and history says he got away with this whole thing, the whole engagement, this whole in bed with the Russian, all this awful stuff, and he never even gets voted on for impeachment, he will have won, and your side will have lost.

NADLER: Well, I certainly agree that we cannot permit the President to get away with these crimes and to set the precedents for other presidents and we’re going to move as expeditiously as we can on the fronts that I said we’re going to move on.

MATTHEWS: What’s more important to the people of your district on the West Side of New York, impeaching this President for what he has clearly done, and you know he has done — and you have said it so loud — or holding the House in the next election? What’s more important? Can you pick up — we’ve got a problem, a technical problem, Mr. Chairman. We’re waiting to get Jerry Nadler back, the chair. We’re going to take a break right now. We will be right back, hopefully, with the congressman from New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

(....)

7:29 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: We’re back with the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler of New York. Mr. Chairman, I worked for Tip O’Neill when he was fighting the fight for impeachment back in the ‘70s against Dick Nixon. He was pushing for action and it was the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Peter Rodino of New Jersey, who was holding it up, who was resisting it. He was a bit conservative. Everybody in the country believes it’s the opposite right now, that you believe it’s time to impeach this guy, that the record is there already, and that the leadership is holding you back. Is that accurate?

NADLER: I’m not going to comment on that. I think there is very — I have said there is very substantial evidence that the president has committed multiple crimes and impeachable offenses, but I have said there is a three-part test for impeachment. One, has the President committed impeachable offenses? Two, are those serious offenses? And, three, you have to have enough evidence so that an impeachment would not tear the country apart.

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

NADLER: And that’s one of the reasons why we are — we have to get more evidence before the American people, and that’s what we’re working at, and that’s why we’re going into court tomorrow.

MATTHEWS: So I’m wrong in reading you, sir? I read you every day as really wanting to move. If it was just up to your gut, your feeling about the country, your feeling about what this President has done this the country —

NADLER: My feeling — my feeling —

MATTHEWS: What does your feeling say about this guy? Does he deserve to go?

NADLER: — oh, does he deserve to go? Of course he deserves to go. But the question is what I said a minute ago. And we have to finish the job of getting, of amassing enough evidence before the American people, so that we can meet that three-part test.

MATTHEWS: If it comes to New Year’s 2020, can we still do it?

NADLER: If it comes — yes, we — yes. I — I —

MATTHEWS: Can you start it next year?

NADLER: Well, I think the — I’m not sure where we’re going to end up, but we’re already moving.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

NADLER: I mean, the — it’s not a question of starting anything. The hearing we held yesterday with Mr. Mueller is part of it. Our continuing hearings that we’re going to be holding are part of it. Getting the evidence in front of the American people is part of it. Going to court in order to enable us to do that is part of it. It’s all part of the process, of a process.

MATTHEWS: I just want to congratulate you, sir, because I thought you, especially as chairman, and all the members of your committee, I thought, did a really —  the Democratic members did a really good job. Whatever slowness there was on the part of the witness is just, you know, life.

NADLER: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: I think you really did a good job in those questions you put to him.

NADLER: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: And I think he did — if you listened to the highlights yesterday, you got your — you got the payload. It happened. You got the proof. This President should go. Thank you, U.S. Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York City.

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