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Nadler: Impeachment inquiry a ‘made-up term’ but it’s essentially ‘what we are doing’

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Friday defended Democrats’ impeachment efforts against President Trump, despite mixed messages from lawmakers describing what his panel is doing on the issue.

In an appearance on CNN, primetime host Chris Cuomo asked Nadler: “If a head of a committee such as yours believes what you obviously believe, your duty in the Constitution is to start investigating to see if you have the facts for grounds for impeachment, and it is called an ‘impeachment inquiry.’ Is that what you are doing right now?”

“It is not necessarily called an impeachment inquiry. That’s a made-up term without legal significance. It is, however, what we are doing,” Nadler said.

“We have been very clear for the last several months in filings with the court, in public statements, in official statements in the committee that we are conducting an investigation with the purpose, among other things, of determining whether to report Articles of Impeachment to the entire House,” he continued.

“That’s exactly what we are doing. Whether you want to call it an impeachment investigation, impeachment inquiry or anything else, I’m frankly not interested in the nomenclature.”

Cuomo told Nadler he doesn’t “care what you call it either as long as you call it one thing,” adding that “it seems that different people say different things within your own party and leadership.”

“You can call it anything you want,” Nadler responded. “The fact is, we are doing what is our job under the Constitution, which is to conduct a series of hearings and an investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment.”

Nadler’s comments come after inconsistent language among top Democrats has led to confusion over what the caucus is doing on impeachment as leaders try to balance meeting demands from their liberal base while protecting centrists in swing districts.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Wednesday walked back comments contradicting Judiciary Committee Democrats’ assertion that they are in the midst of an impeachment inquiry, saying he supports the panel’s investigative efforts.

Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has framed the panel’s activities as part of oversight that has already been underway without making overt references to impeachment.

“We’re legislating, we are investigating as we have been, and we are litigating. We are taking our information to court — that’s the path we are on and that’s the path we will continue to be on,” Pelosi told reporters Monday.

On Thursday, Pelosi defended Democrats’ investigative approach and dismissed confusion surrounding the party’s oversight message.

“Legislate, investigate, litigate. That’s the path that we’ve been on, and that’s the path we continue to be on,” Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing in the Capitol.

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