Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler clashed over Trump's first impeachment with Nadler saying Democrats' plans were 'unfair' and 'unconstitutional'

Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler clashed over Trump's first impeachment with Nadler saying Democrats' plans were 'unfair' and 'unconstitutional'
Schiff, Nadler
Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff of California and . Jerry Nadler of New York attend the 2020 State of the Union.Mario Tama/Getty Images
  • Two powerful House Democrats disagreed on how to handle Trump's first impeachment.

  • At issue was which of their committees would take the lead in the investigation.

  • Rep. Jerry Nadler also reportedly pushed Democrats to have Trump's lawyers more involved.

A pair of powerful House Democrats clashed repeatedly behind the scenes over the handling of President Donald Trump's first impeachment, according to a forthcoming book.

Reps. Jerry Nadler of New York and Adam Schiff of California reportedly disagree over how much power to give Nadler's House Judiciary Committee and how to address potential due process concerns with the proceedings.

"It's unfair, and it's unprecedented, and it's unconstitutional," Nadler reportedly told Schiff, according to an excerpt from "Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress's Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump." The book, written by Politico Playbook co-author Rachael Bade and Washington Post reporter Karoun Demirjian, will be published on October 18.

Fox News published the latest excerpt from the book on Tuesday afternoon. Nadler, according to the book, felt that if the Judiciary Committee did not cross-examine witnesses, Trump and his attorneys would raise concerns about whether his due process rights had been violated. Nadler reportedly wanted Democrats to handle charges Trump abused his power by freezing aid to Ukraine like the Judiciary panel handled President Richard Nixon's impeachment before he resigned.

"If we're going to impeach, we need to show the country that we gave the president ample opportunity to defend himself," Nadler warned Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, per the book.

In the end, Schiff's House Intelligence Committee took the lead role in handling Trump's impeachment, a break from the historic tradition of the Judiciary Committee handling such proceedings. According to the authors, this was because Pelosi did not trust Nadler.

"She didn't want the Judiciary panel to interview witnesses at all," they 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."

Nadler's repeated pleas to Schiff were also reportedly unsuccessful.

"I write the rules of my committee, not you," Nadler reportedly told his colleague once. "I resent you telling me how to run my committee."

Schiff, according to the book, retorted, "I don't really care about your resentment. Neither the Speaker nor I agree."

The Intelligence panel later had some witnesses reappear before the full committee. Republican lawmakers grilled the likes of then Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, but Trump's lawyers were not present. The White House declined to appear at a Judiciary hearing that featured four constitutional scholars.

Trump's lawyers would later make these due process complaints the center of their defense during the Senate trial, though fact checkers found they repeatedly stretched the truth. Trump was later acquitted with only one Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney, voting to convict him on the charge of abusing his power. Romney was the first senator in US history to vote to convict an impeached president of their own party.

Representatives for Schiff and Nadler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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