Rachel Maddow asked Rep. Jerry Nadler about a statement he made on CNN last night about whether his House Judiciary committee was holding formal impeachment proceedings.
"You said earlier this evening this should be seen as what we colloquially describe as impeachment proceedings. Why has this been fuzzy as whether or not they're under way?" Maddow asked.
"I don't think we should get hung up on semantics. We've made it clear the committee is holding an investigation. We're looking into the various charges of malfeasance, obstruction of justice, abuse of power by the president. and we are considering what to do about it, including possible voting of articles of impeachment," he said.
"When you said that you expect there will be a vote before the end of the year on whether or not to approve articles of impeachment..."
"Well, if we decide impeachment we'll have a vote. If not, we won't have a vote," he said.
Maddow asked why he saw the time frame as the end of the year.
"It's an assumption to how long these court fights will take and hearings with witnesses," Nadler said.
"We'll spend, I assume, September and October on hearings with witnesses we don't have to get through compulsory process in court. Hopefully the court proceedings will get us the witnesses like (Don) McGahn and others after the end of October. And if that is correct, then that's an approximate time frame."
"And this lawsuit that you filed this week to try to compel Don McGahn's testimony, to try to make him respect your subpoena, I've been describing this -- and I realize I'm describing this on the basis of other people like me describing this and i should check it out with you -- but the way I look at this is, this is about getting McGahn's testimony but it seems to me through this lawsuit, you were essentially trying to unlock what has been blocking other witnesses from testifying," Maddow said.
"That's exactly right. The legal issues in McGahn are exactly the same legal issues for Hope Hicks and all the other witnesses. So when hopefully we win the McGahn lawsuit, all the others will follow.
"The White House is asserting absolute immunity for presidential appointees, which is an absurd claim and that's essentially what they're asserting. If the courts, God forbid, were to uphold such a claim, then never mind the impeachment, there'd be no Congressional oversight of the executive at all because you could simply say anyone who deals with the president, anyone in the administration doesn't have to testify at all.
"And that would destroy the separation of powers. it would essentially make the president unaccountable to Congress and therefore to the people and make him a king, which is exactly what the framers of the Constitution did not want to do."