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 5:33 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 113081

Reported Deaths: 3231
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7823176
DeSoto676778
Harrison490283
Jackson439383
Rankin385986
Madison375793
Lee349079
Forrest298078
Jones285384
Washington253799
Lafayette244042
Lauderdale2398134
Lamar219038
Bolivar199477
Oktibbeha197654
Neshoba1820111
Lowndes175562
Panola167638
Leflore163287
Sunflower158849
Warren153255
Monroe146572
Pontotoc145219
Pike137256
Lincoln136856
Marshall136226
Copiah135736
Coahoma124036
Scott123829
Grenada120638
Yazoo119933
Simpson119549
Union116025
Leake113940
Holmes113760
Tate113639
Itawamba111325
Pearl River110559
Adams105243
Prentiss102919
Wayne99421
Alcorn96712
George95718
Covington94525
Marion93342
Tippah86521
Newton84927
Chickasaw83225
Winston82621
Tallahatchie82525
Tishomingo79741
Hancock78727
Attala78126
Clarke72750
Clay68421
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61812
Noxubee59617
Smith58516
Claiborne53416
Montgomery53123
Tunica52317
Yalobusha51314
Lawrence50414
Perry48423
Carroll46812
Greene45918
Stone45514
Amite42013
Humphreys41916
Quitman4176
Jefferson Davis40011
Webster36613
Wilkinson33120
Kemper32115
Benton3194
Sharkey28014
Jefferson27110
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1064
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 154942

Reported Deaths: 2660
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22720374
Mobile14405314
Tuscaloosa10066137
Montgomery9820196
Madison907894
Shelby715361
Lee646165
Baldwin644369
Marshall431048
Calhoun416059
Etowah412249
Morgan400033
Houston365532
DeKalb325428
Elmore312852
St. Clair283842
Limestone273630
Walker269993
Talladega259135
Cullman231024
Lauderdale212540
Jackson205515
Autauga202130
Franklin201731
Colbert193330
Russell19053
Blount187325
Dallas186027
Chilton182632
Escambia171428
Coffee16829
Covington166629
Dale163851
Chambers133043
Pike131313
Tallapoosa129587
Clarke127317
Marion105029
Butler99840
Barbour9969
Marengo98222
Winston90613
Geneva8447
Lawrence81131
Pickens81117
Randolph80514
Bibb80114
Hale74830
Cherokee72314
Clay72212
Lowndes70228
Henry6386
Bullock63717
Monroe63610
Washington62312
Crenshaw59830
Perry5816
Wilcox55912
Fayette55713
Conecuh55613
Cleburne5327
Macon53020
Sumter46821
Lamar4595
Choctaw38712
Greene34016
Coosa1993
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 70°
Columbus
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 69°
Oxford
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 68°
Starkville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 64°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather