In an interview with CNBC's John Harwood, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler says he's prepared for this moment his entire life. His criteria for impeaching the president is narrower than many Democrats might hope, and he says political repercussions need to be taken into account. But he's set on gathering the evidence necessary to prevent what he calls "the biggest Constitutional crisis" – Donald Trump "neutering Congress" and effectively creating a dictatorship.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: I was reading over the weekend about the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in the 19th century. And the advocates of impeachment then struggled with the question of, do we articulate narrow, concrete, easily understandable grounds for going after him? Crimes that he might have committed, or clear violations of his oath of office, or do we articulate a broader argument, but namely that the impeachable violation is that he was thwarting the aims of the Civil War, or the outcomes of the Civil War by interfering with the creation of a new society. Do you think of it that way as you’re investigating President Trump? And if there’s a larger issue about him and his conduct, what is it?
REP. JERRY NADLER: Certainly on many issues, you have to deal with the specifics. And the larger issue – well, you’ve got three issues, really.
It starts off with, this president and his campaign. If you read the Mueller report, there was tons of evidence that they knew the Russians were interfering with the election on their behalf. They welcomed it, they wanted it, and they coordinated with it. Colluded, in a word. There’s no question about that.
JOHN HARWOOD: Despite Bill Barr saying over and over, “no collusion.”
JERRY NADLER: Bill Barr is just a liar. And, he’s just representing the president.
The second clear conclusion is, there are 12 episodes of obstruction of justice. Beyond all that is the basic question: They’re trying to say that Congress, representing the American people, can’t get information, and therefore, can’t function. The effect of that is to make the president a monarch, to make him a dictator. And that’s what we’ve got to fight.
JOHN HARWOOD: Do you believe, in fact, that the president is compromised by Russia?
JERRY NADLER: Trump was saying throughout the campaign, “I have no dealings in Russia. I have no dealings of whatever kind.” We now know that in fact, they were negotiating for Trump Tower Moscow right to the end of the campaign. They were lying and lying about it.