If you watched the hearings featuring Corey Lewandowski yesterday then you’re already aware that Rep. Jerry Nadler is leading the Democrats’ charge to impeach President Trump. That drive has led to some behind-the-scenes conflict with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who has done her best to protect moderate Democrats who can point to internal polling which shows most voters don’t think impeachment should be a priority. Today, Politico reports Pelosi herself echoed those concerns last week:
In a closed-door meeting last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi stunned lawmakers and aides with a swipe at Democratic staff on the House Judiciary Committee.
Pelosi criticized the panel’s handling of impeachment in harsh terms, complaining committee aides have advanced the push for ousting President Donald Trump far beyond where the House Democratic Caucus stands. Democrats simply don’t have the votes on the floor to impeach Trump, Pelosi said.
“And you can feel free to leak this,” Pelosi added, according to multiple people in the room. Pelosi’s office declined to comment on the meeting.
But despite the Speaker’s foot-dragging, Rep. Nadler continues to pursue Oversight hearings styled as impeachment investigations. It turns out there is a very practical reason for Rep. Nadler’s fixation on impeachment, one which helps to explain his willingness to court disaster for his moderate colleagues.
Several Democrats have speculated that Nadler’s hard line on impeachment is partly driven by concerns with his political standing on the left in his New York City district as he faces his toughest primary challenge in decades. Nadler has also come under intense pressure from Trump’s fiercest critics on the Judiciary Committee who have actively lobbied for impeachment for months.
The primary challenge in Nadler’s district comes from three different women who are partly by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ victory over Joseph Crowley. The leading challenger is Lindsey Boylan who has made Nadler’s reluctance to embrace impeachment the focus of her campaign. In July, Politico highlighted Boylan’s campaign:
While Nadler has pushed his party leadership behind the scenes to move on impeachment, Boylan is aiming squarely at Nadler’s reluctance to publicly support an official House inquiry against Trump — and she’s using the issue to great effect. The 35-year-old candidate took in $264,657 in donations in the second quarter of this year, the most among the growing crop of primary challengers looking to unseat members of Congress around New York City…
But the knock against Nadler — who will be a central character when Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees on Wednesday — isn’t just about Medicare for All, the Green New Deal or immigration. It’s about the perception among some progressives that he isn’t thirsty enough for Trump’s blood…
“We need a leader, not a follower,” she said. “He’s trying to place the blame on someone else, Nancy Pelosi. I don’t think that is a way to lead.”
You can see two examples of Boylan’s focus on Nadler and impeachment in one of her ads below. But in addition to the heat coming from Boylan, Nadler has also been pressured by billionaire Tom Steyer who held an impeachment town hall in Nadler’s Manhattan district back in February:
Steyer’s Need to Impeach PAC held a town hall in Nadler’s Manhattan district Tuesday evening, and the group is running a 30-second television ad powered by a six-figure digital buy encouraging Nadler’s constituents to press him to back immediate impeachment…
“They voted for Congressman Nadler because they want some action,” he added. “That’s why they turned out.”
Of course, a primary challenge to Nadler, who has served in Congress since 1992, is still a long shot. But AOC showed that by running to the left, it can be done. Nadler may not admit it but he must be privately concerned that Boylan’s impeachment push could turn the 2020 election into a real challenge. But of course, he can blunt the impact of that challenge by becoming the face of the impeachment drive. That may not be good for House Democrats, especially the moderates who are being dragged along, but there’s no doubt it’s good for Jerry Nadler.
This first ad titled “Impeachment Now” was released in mid-July. The ad only has a handful of views on YouTube but the same clip received thousands of views when she shared it on Twitter.
Here’s another video Boylan released on Aug. 1:
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