A top House Democrat said Sunday that President Trump could be impeached if he directed his lawyer to make illegal hush payments to women claiming to have had affairs with the then-presidential candidate.
“They would be impeachable offenses. Whether they’re important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question,” said Representative Jerry Nadler on CNN.
“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,” the New York Democrat said.
On Friday, federal prosecutors at the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office wrote in a sentencing memo for Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, that, “as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” Individual-1 referring to Trump.
Cohen pled guilty in August to eight federal counts, including making false statements to a bank, tax fraud, and campaign finance violations related to the Trump campaign, but so far Trump has not been implicated in directing any illegal activity.
Nadler, who will be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in the next Congress, where Democrats will control the majority, cautioned that an impeachable offense doesn’t guarantee there will be an impeachment.
“You don’t necessarily launch an impeachment against the President because he committed an impeachable offense,” he said.
“There are several things you have to look at. One, were there impeachable offenses committed? How many? And secondly, how important were they? Did they rise to the gravity where you should undertake an impeachment?” he said. “An impeachment is an attempt to affect or overturn the result of the last election and should do it only for very serious situations.”
Last month, the congressman warned against a hasty impeachment, saying a “partisan impeachment” would tear the country apart and might not be worth it.
“You have to be reluctant to do an impeachment,” he said on MSNBC. “You don’t want half the country to say to the other half for the next 30 years, ‘We won the election. You stole it from us.'”