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Jerry Nadler says Dems should "wait and see" on impeachment

Nadler: Shutdown is "blackmail" of Americans
Rep. Nadler: Trump shutdown is "blackmail of the American people" 06:00

Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York, the incoming chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, pledged to conduct strong oversight of the White House when his party takes control of the House on Thursday, but said Democrats should "wait and see" before discussing impeachment proceedings against President Trump. 

"For the last two years, the president has had no oversight, no accountability from Congress. The Republican Congress was completely derelict in its responsibility to provide oversight," Nadler said on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday. "We're going to provide that oversight. We're going to use the subpoena power if we have to."

Nadler said that the Judiciary Committee will also hold hearings on the December deaths of two migrant children in Border Patrol custody. "This is inhuman and it's not precedented," he said, referring to the White House's hardline immigration agenda. "It's a deliberate creation of the Trump administration, which is trying to make things as miserable as possible. And if kids die, they're apparently willing to have that."

The veteran New York lawmaker said House Democrats will use their investigative committee powers over the administration to probe the White House's controversial migrant family separation policy — which it was forced to rescind after a massive public uproar — as well as the appointment of Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who has previously denounced special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in U.S. elections and alleged coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow. 

Still, Nadler stressed that his committee, which has the authority to initiate impeachment proceedings against federal officials, will only hold impeachment hearings against the president if certain criteria are met.  

"Impeachment is designed as a defense of the republic against a president who would aggrandize power, destroy liberty, destroy Democratic institutions, destroy the separations of power," he said. "If that happens, if you get real evidence of that, then you have to consider impeachment hearings."

"There's certainly a lot of allegations, but we'll have to wait and see what the Mueller investigation comes up with and other investigations looking into it," Nadler added.

Asked about the partial government shutdown and impasse in budget negotiations between lawmakers and the White House over Mr. Trump's unwavering demand for $5 billion in funding to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, Nadler said his fellow House Democrats intend to pass six appropriations bills to fund most of the government and a continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) until Feb. 8. 

Because his party's proposals do not include any additional funding for a border wall, it is unlikely that they will be backed by the president and a Republican-controlled Senate. Mr. Trump is scheduled to meet with top congressional Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday to discuss the stalemate in negotiations.   

Nadler said the partial shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, is Mr. Trump's attempt to "blackmail" the American public because he feels "beleaguered" by criticism from his own party, high-profile resignations in his administration and looming Democratic control of the House. 

"It is an extremist policy designed to appeal to an extremist base and hold the whole country hostage," he said. 

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