Republicans are slamming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) over his remarks accusing GOP senators of participating in “a cover-up” by voting against an amendment to the rules for President Trump‘s impeachment trial that would have allowed for new witnesses to be called.
The criticisms come in the wake of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts admonishing the House impeachment managers and President Trump’s defense team after a fiery exchange between Nadler and White House counsel Pat Cipollone around 1 a.m.
GOP lawmakers argued the comments were offensive and served to “alienate” the senators serving as a jury.
“If the goal was to persuade, they took a huge step backward last night,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) told reporters Wednesday.
“Particularly toward the end there, Nadler was especially partisan, and I think that is not helpful to their cause, frankly,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — a moderate Republican that could play a critical role in Democrats’ quest to sway members across the aisle to join their push to bring in additional witnesses and information — said she took offense to the comments.
“As one who is listening attentively and working hard to get to a fair process, I was offended,” she said.
Cipollone responded that Nadler was making “false allegations” and added, “The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you.”
“Listen, we get admonished in the House on a regular basis and so what you saw was a little bit of House rhetoric by Jerry Nadler come forth into the Senate, and the chief justice was right to admonish Jerry Nadler. I also think that Pat Cipollone was very right to call him out on that,” Meadows told reporters. “And yet the chief justice saying we need to be civil in our discord, there’s nothing I agree with more. I believe that you have a difference of opinion and you do it in a polite and respectful way. Jerry Nadler was out of control and certainly out of line in his comments the other night.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), who serves on the president’s impeachment defense team, said he doesn’t think any more heated moments would work in Democrats’ advantage.
“It wouldn’t be smart for them to plan to do that on the spot, it would be more of a mistake when emotionally choosing to go off the cuff in a way that they’ll regret later,” he told The Hill.
The New York Republican added that it’s possible more tensions flare when questioning begins after opening statements.
“I think that as you go further along past opening statements and you’re going to be answering questions from senators, there might be room there for their members to step away from what might be on their paper, you might see that, especially if and when coming out of the White House counsel’s opening statement, the presidents team’s opening statements you’re hearing good effective points get made,” he said. “They might want to try to clear something up in a way that actually makes it worse.”
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), one of Trump’s most vocal allies in the House, argued it was “unbecoming” to go after the president’s legal team and GOP senators in the way Nadler did.
“Jerry Nadler may have managed to outdo Lead Impeachment Manager Adam Schiff last night with his outlandish and irresponsible allegations and accusations against President @realDonaldTrump and Republican Senators. His words were reprehensible and unbecoming,” Biggs tweeted.
While Nader’s remarks may have sparked pushback from the GOP, his Democratic colleagues have largely defended his comments, arguing the late hours and circumstances of the trial sparked a moment of outrage.
“When you schedule a trial as Mitch McConnell did, that’s designed to be hidden in the dead of night, where you require litigants who are going at it for the entire day to go into the wee hours, you’re going to have tempers flare,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters.
“That happens in every courtroom in America, as well. But we are going to try to keep focused on the facts,” Schiff said. “The president’s team would like nothing more than to provoke a bitter conflict. We’re not going to let them.”