Earlier this year, when New York Congressman Jerry Nadler became Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, he clearly had one priority – take down Donald Trump by hook or by crook. Nadler has had a visceral, personal hatred for Mr. Trump for several decades. When Nadler was a state legislator, his vicious attacks on then real estate developer Donald Trump, while trying to put him out of business, were legendary. With Donald Trump as the sitting President in 2019, Nadler saw the ultimate opportunity to fulfill his long-held dream of destroying him, and in the spotlight his ego craved.
Nadler had a choice to make as Chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee. He could lead by setting a dignified, bipartisan tone in confronting some of the most serious issues that come before the House or he could allow his obsession with impeaching President Trump to drive his every move. Nadler took the latter course and with that decision he ensured that there would be no reasoned consideration. For him impeachment was the goal and he would have to find some way to achieve it.
Nadler left no doubt about the path he chose when he announced the appointment of two men who would serve as his Committee’s “Special Oversight Counsel.” Their qualifications for the position were exactly what Nadler wanted.
The two men chosen by Nadler, Norm Eisen and Barry Berke, came to their new positions with the following credentials: First, not content to let the Mueller investigation run its course, Eisen and Berke teamed up to write a 168 page treatise purporting to demonstrate once and for all that President Trump was guilty of obstruction of justice. They appointed themselves prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner and came to their conclusion before any actual investigation – exactly the approach Nadler adopted for the impeachment proceedings.
Secondly, a look at their Twitter posts makes it hard to know how they found time for anything else but attacking the President. Each has been obsessed with posting insults about the President, with one regularly retweeting what the other has tweeted. https://twitter.com/barryberke?lang=en.
But apparently writing and tweeting against the President were too passive for Eisen and Berke. Eisen headed up a group euphemistically called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (“CREW”) and in that capacity he filed a lawsuit against the President alleging a violation of the now well known Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. Berke served as counsel in the case as well. When their lawsuit was thrown out, they moved on to cheer a similar effort in another court and vowed not to give up the fight against the President. That vow raised a most interesting predicament for Mr. Eisen. By now working as Nadler’s taxpayer-hired attack dog against President Trump, Eisen found himself in the position of being funded by taxpayer dollars to conduct the Committee’s “investigation” of the President, which would further his own personal interests in the lawsuits he and Berke support against the President? Eisen, who previously served, of all things, as President Obama’s ethics counsel, conveniently saw no conflict.
In any universe with any semblance of fairness and integrity, it is impossible that the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee could believe that he would be well serving the American people and any quest for the truth by hiring as purported “investigators” unabashed Trump haters who before their appointment vowed to take down the President, regularly wrote and Tweeted about that agenda, came to their conclusion about the President before any investigation began, and who promised to keep fighting until the man they would be “investigating” has been removed from office? Yet just last week there were Eisen and Berke, front and center with Nadler, leading the charge to impeach Donald Trump and making a partisan mockery of the impeachment process, over the objection of minority Committee members.
Nadler easily could have chosen a different path if he were at all interested in the best interests of the country, in serving those Americans who demand and deserve fairness and due process in their public institutions, and in the sanctity of our Constitution. Indeed, Nadler could have drawn lessons from our country’s history to guide him on a different path and better serve our nation.
As Nadler well knows, a primary criticism of the recent Mueller Special Counsel investigation rightfully expressed by many fair-minded observers was that from the entire universe of capable legal talent available around the country, Mueller picked lawyers who openly and actively supported Hillary Clinton’s bid for the Presidency, who gave generously to her campaign fund, who cried when she lost the election, and even one lawyer who served as her lawyer in defending against allegations that she illegally misused her email accounts. Fundamental to the criticism was the overriding belief that the investigation of the President of the United States and the investigators conducting it must be beyond reproach in every regard. It is only by choosing straight-shooting, unbiased prosecutors with no agenda other than getting to the truth of the matter and with no partisan allegiance – financial, political, or emotional – that an investigation truly can fulfill its role and deserve the support and confidence of the American people. That is even more the case with impeachment proceedings; but Nadler knowingly ignored America’s best interests in favor of his own personal agenda and ego.
Nadler also ignored lessons from earlier in our country’s history. First, he ignored Alexander Hamilton’s warning in Federalist No. 65, written in 1788, in which this founding father wrote that impeachment proceedings risked turning our constitutional democracy into partisan, tribal warfare with the highest office in the land as its target. But Nadler also ignored the lessons that he should have learned from a dark part of our history just last century. In the 1950s, Joe McCarthy and his Committee counsel, Roy Cohn bullied and harassed witness after witness and literally ruined lives, leading the distinguished Harvard Law School Dean Erwin Griswold to decry McCarthy’s role as “”judge, jury, prosecutor, castigator, and press agent, all in one.” In the current impeachment circus, Jerry Nadler annointed himself nothing less. He has very badly hurt our country and his heavy-handed gaveling down of any dissenting voices has brought shame to him and the colleagues who support him.
The Congressional bully who preceded Jerry Nadler in the 1950s ultimately was undone by one lone voice who spoke for the majority of fair-minded Americans. The courageous Boston lawyer, Joseph Welch, finally could abide the bullying and injustice no longer and at long last, he interrupted McCarthy in mid-stride and told him that enough was enough. He publicly demanded to know whether the lawmaker simply had no sense of decency about him. The question, of course, was rhetorical, for the answer was obvious; but it echoed around the world and it was the bully in the end who was taken down.
We very badly need that voice of courage and conscience today when the impeachment process turns now to the Senate in order to begin to repair the damage done by Nadler, Schiff, and their supporters who have put their personal and partisan interests and agendas above all else. In doing so they have failed every fair-minded American who wanted and deserved a process that was fair and transparent in the finest American tradition, especially with something as important as the institution of the Presidency of the United States at stake.