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 6:12 PM
Updated: Dec 10, 2018 6:33 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295357

Reported Deaths: 5305
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion40796844
Lake25864448
Allen17025289
Elkhart16389209
St. Joseph16125217
Hamilton12225163
Vanderburgh9218112
Tippecanoe807627
Porter770176
Johnson5971161
Hendricks5719154
Vigo563274
Monroe519846
Clark486774
Delaware4721103
Madison4651119
Kosciusko437339
LaPorte436792
Howard321375
Warrick309072
Floyd301177
Bartholomew296262
Wayne292261
Cass291231
Marshall283642
Grant254147
Noble244246
Hancock238949
Henry234136
Boone231754
Dubois229230
Dearborn204629
Jackson200033
Morgan196043
Gibson171622
Knox170715
Clinton170420
Shelby170453
Lawrence169246
DeKalb168428
Adams160019
Miami150414
Daviess149143
Wabash148118
Fayette141233
Steuben139713
LaGrange135127
Jasper134911
Harrison134624
Montgomery127926
Whitley127410
Ripley121414
Decatur119842
Posey116613
Putnam115626
Wells115427
Huntington115210
White115221
Randolph114619
Clay111821
Jefferson110314
Scott97918
Greene97553
Jay93012
Starke87021
Sullivan85515
Perry80521
Spencer7957
Jennings79114
Fulton78717
Fountain7257
Washington6966
Carroll65313
Orange64828
Franklin63525
Owen5676
Vermillion5662
Newton53412
Parke5296
Tipton52826
Blackford50011
Rush5006
Pike49618
Pulaski36410
Martin3425
Brown3153
Benton3101
Crawford2711
Union2551
Switzerland2453
Warren2272
Ohio2227
Unassigned0265

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 351419

Reported Deaths: 5996
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin48389665
Cuyahoga34096734
Hamilton28674371
Montgomery19082225
Butler14138144
Lucas13446406
Summit12431309
Stark8122197
Warren770375
Mahoning6772299
Lake625466
Lorain590297
Clermont541946
Delaware521435
Licking506275
Fairfield505163
Trumbull4969144
Greene489662
Clark486664
Marion451451
Allen446384
Wood4243107
Medina413354
Miami398565
Pickaway387948
Columbiana328496
Portage323171
Wayne303593
Tuscarawas299557
Richland293929
Mercer281237
Ross234559
Hancock225336
Muskingum223610
Auglaize218925
Putnam218649
Darke208058
Erie205565
Ashtabula204753
Geauga189451
Scioto186713
Lawrence181336
Athens17954
Union17928
Shelby176715
Seneca165018
Belmont151529
Madison151018
Sandusky144427
Preble143821
Huron139218
Holmes137039
Defiance131121
Knox118818
Logan118313
Fulton117225
Ottawa114730
Crawford114216
Washington112427
Clinton100314
Williams9938
Jefferson9894
Ashland98322
Highland96317
Henry94422
Brown9324
Champaign8935
Jackson87312
Fayette86617
Van Wert8596
Morrow8312
Hardin82518
Guernsey79213
Coshocton78813
Perry73312
Pike7081
Adams70611
Wyandot68916
Gallia68113
Paulding61710
Hocking58511
Noble56121
Carroll41610
Meigs36312
Monroe29921
Morgan2342
Vinton2075
Harrison1823
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Broken Clouds
43° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 37°
Angola
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 36°
Huntington
Scattered Clouds
42° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 42°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
43° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 40°
Van Wert
Scattered Clouds
43° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 40°
Drying out for the start of the work week
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events