Nadler feuded with Schiff, Pelosi over 'unconstitutional' impeachment of Donald Trump

Nadler's concern arose after he found out Judiciary Committee would not have ability to cross-examine impeachment witnesses

FIRST ON FOX: A new book reveals that House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., was at odds with how House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi handled impeachment proceedings against former President Trump, insisting that the methods used by the prominent Democrats were "unconstitutional" and could be used to attack the party.

The revelation comes in a book set to be released on Oct. 18 titled, "Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress's Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump," written by Politico Playbook co-author Rachael Bade and Washington Post reporter Karoun Demirjian. The book chronicles the methods Democrats used to target Trump.

In October 2019, amid the Democrats' plan to hold a full House vote on a resolution outlining the structure of impeachment proceedings against Trump, Nadler, according to the book, took issue with how Schiff, who was tapped by Pelosi to lead impeachment efforts, was prepared to proceed with the impeachment without due process for Trump.

Worried about the situation and the likelihood that his Judiciary Committee would not be able to cross-examine witnesses as the committee had done traditionally, Nadler confronted Schiff about the planned process and, according to the book, said, "It’s unfair, and it’s unprecedented, and it’s unconstitutional."

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Rep. Adam Schiff

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Rep. Adam Schiff (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. | Saul Loeb/AFP |  Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images)

"I don’t appreciate your tone," Schiff allegedly responded. "I worry you’re putting us in a box for our investigation."

Sidelined by Pelosi to handle impeachment proceedings in the House, the book claims Nadler made an "effort to get back into Pelosi’s good graces" and that his "aides sucked up to her staff relentlessly" in an attempt to show that his panel was prepared to step in and assist.

Striving to earn approval from Pelosi, Nadler hired attorneys and had his team review records and books from the impeachments of former Presidents Nixon and Johnson. Those efforts worked and led Pelosi and Schiff to reconsider the Judiciary Committee's involvement in the process, although they had "their own ideas about how he should run his committee process," according to the book.

"She didn’t want the Judiciary panel to interview witnesses at all," the book's authors wrote. "Pelosi simply didn’t trust the panel — which was stacked with liberal crusaders and hotheaded conservatives — to handle the rollout of the complex Ukraine narrative with the careful, compelling treatment it required. She couldn’t afford another Nadler screwup. The Judiciary chairman could focus on the legal business of crafting the articles of impeachment and have academics testify, she allowed. But that was it."

Nadler's frustration with the pair of Democrats grew. Research conducted by his team proved that presidents facing impeachment from Congress had been allowed to defend themselves before the House Judiciary Committee, with attorneys for the president having the opportunity to attend hearings as well as cross-examine testifying witnesses or call their own.

That did not matter to Schiff, the authors wrote, and the fact that Trump would not be able to face his accusers before being impeached did not sit right with Nadler, who warned Pelosi and Schiff of the ramifications it would have in the long run.

"If we’re going to impeach, we need to show the country that we gave the president ample opportunity to defend himself," Nadler told them, according to the book.

Rep. Adam Schiff, right, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, speaks during a press conference at the Capitol on Dec. 9, 2021.

Rep. Adam Schiff, right, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, speaks during a press conference at the Capitol on Dec. 9, 2021. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

The book noted that Pelosi and Schiff were concerned with what Trump's attorneys would say at the hearings, worrying that it could upend Democratic messaging ahead of the 2020 presidential election and stifle Biden's election chances.

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Nadler's staff made attempts to clarify that Trump's impeachment needed to look "more like Nixon," but Schiff's team stood opposed as they said, "F--- Donald Trump," the authors recalled.

"Stick close to the Nixon and Clinton cases," Nadler reportedly said amid criticism from prominent Republicans about the legality of Trump's impeachment. "You have to arm yourself against these process complaints."

Tensions among the teams for Nadler and Schiff continued to rise as impeachment efforts ramped up, with Schiff's team making it clear that they did not take Nadler seriously.

During a meeting with members of Schiff's team, the book's authors recalled that Judiciary counsel Aaron Hiller said Nadler would "insist on these hearings," but Dan Goldman, who served as Schiff's lead counsel for the Democrats' first round of impeachment hearings against Trump and is now seeking to represent New York's 10th District in the House, scoffed at the idea.

"Jerry Nadler? With him, everything is negotiable," Goldman reportedly said at the time.

Rep. Jerry Nadler speaks to the media after voting in his upper West Side district on Aug. 23, 2022, in New York City.

Rep. Jerry Nadler speaks to the media after voting in his upper West Side district on Aug. 23, 2022, in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Nadler's team reportedly griped in private over Schiff's handling of the process, calling him a "control freak" who wanted to lead the process for as long as he could, the book claims.

The book says tension among both teams reached a breaking point when Schiff sent Nadler a draft of the resolution laying out the rules for impeachment, which ignored his concerns about due process for the president.

"These lawless HPSCI b-------!" one Judiciary aide said, according to the book. Another claimed: "It’s dumb. It’s illegal!"

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Nadler and Schiff met once more about the resolution, with their disagreement growing deeper as Nadler amplified his concerns about Schiff's plans to handle things, the authors claimed.

"They’re going to argue we don’t have due process for Trump. Why make that argument real?" Nadler asked Schiff.

Rep. Adam Schiff confers with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a news conference on Dec. 9, 2021.

Rep. Adam Schiff confers with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a news conference on Dec. 9, 2021. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

"I write the rules of my committee, not you," Nadler added. "I resent you telling me how to run my committee."

"I don’t really care about your resentment," Schiff quipped. "Neither the Speaker nor I agree."

Pelosi's involvement in the matter, as highlighted in the book, was one of making the impeachment against Trump a "national security issue."

"We need to make the case more strongly that this is a national security issue," Pelosi told her team, according to the book. "Eighty percent plus say it’s not okay for the president to ask for foreign assistance [in an election] — despite Trump asserting that he can do it. I just think we need to make this case to rural voters, evangelicals, and Republicans."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talks to reporters at the Capitol on Aug. 10, 2022.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talks to reporters at the Capitol on Aug. 10, 2022. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

During a meeting highlighted in the book, Pelosi played a clip of conservative commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano and insisted his words could be used to better sell the notion of impeachment to Republicans.

"We need to play up Napolitano saying he committed impeachable offenses," Pelosi allegedly declared. "The public awareness on the details of this is very low … So we need clarity and repetition over and over again. ‘National security threat.’ ‘Abuse of power.’ ‘No one is above the law.’"

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Regarding the GOP's outspoken criticism that Trump was not being treated fairly during the impeachment process, the book says Pelosi urged her team not to acknowledge their claims.

"Let’s not give them any attention," she said, according to the book. In addition, Pelosi claimed, "Democrats are giving Trump more rights than the Democrats had under the Clinton impeachment."