Nadler: These are "formal impeachment proceedings," you know

Did we miss a House vote? Judiciary chair Jerrold Nadler told CNN’s Erin Burnett that the committee’s investigation has turned into “formal impeachment proceedings,” which might be news to the overwhelming majority that voted against such a step last month:

“This is formal impeachment proceedings,” Nadler said in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett. “We are investigating all the evidence, we’re gathering the evidence. And we will at the conclusion of this — hopefully by the end of the year — vote to vote articles of impeachment to the House floor. Or we won’t. That’s a decision that we’ll have to make. But that’s exactly the process we’re in right now.” …

The House Judiciary Committee is investigating whether Trump should be impeached, Nadler noted.

“The fact is, we are doing an investigation. We are investigating the facts, investigating the evidence,” Nadler said. “We are going into court to get witnesses all with a view toward deciding and recommending to the House whether to impeach the president.”

The main “fact” is that Nadler has not been authorized to open “formal impeachment proceedings” against Trump. A vote to proceed on impeachment, which could have produced such a referral from the House, failed on a 95-322 vote in mid-July. That vote took place before Nadler’s stunt testimony from Robert Mueller blew up in his face, as well as in Adam Schiff’s at the House Intelligence Committee. More Democrats have publicly backed the idea of an impeachment probe since, but the number is still around 120 by CNN’s count — far too few to authorize a “formal” impeachment process.

Ranking member Doug Collins ripped Nadler shortly after the interview aired last night:

This is mostly a matter of semantics anyway. Nadler has been operating an informal impeachment proceeding since the day he took over the House Judiciary Committee, and everyone knows it. No one has any doubt as to Nadler’s motives, even if the lack of formal designation allows Nancy Pelosi some plausible deniability for electoral purposes. Nadler doesn’t require a formal grant to produce articles of impeachment anyway; Judiciary has enough authority on its own to refer impeachment to the full House.

So why hasn’t Nadler done so? He’s been talking big for months on this issue, and does so again in this interview, claiming that Mueller never vindicated Trump on collusion. That’s true — as far as it goes, but it also puts cart before the horse. Mueller also concluded that there was no evidence to support Nadler’s theory that Trump campaign officials knowingly worked with Russian intelligence, which means there’s no case for it. Prosecutors aren’t in the business of exoneration, but of finding evidence. There wasn’t any evidence that Trump and his team did anything to steal the 2016 election, which was the only basis on which an impeachment could possibly generate enough popular support to succeed in removal.

Nadler’s hoping to stoke outrage by spinning the Mueller report as hard as possible. He’d be better off taking Hillary Clinton’s advice to shut the hell up if he wants to have any credibility at all.