A new book details the saga that led to the impeachment trial of President Trump — including how House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff outmaneuvered House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler to become the driving congressional force behind Trump’s impeachment.
The book, “Abuse of Power” by Fred Lucas, a White House reporter for the Heritage Foundation-linked Daily Signal, was released Tuesday morning. It details the events leading up to Trump’s impeachment beginning with Democrats’ resistance to his presidency from the beginning, through the Mueller probe and its aftermath, all the way through the Senate vote that kept Trump in office.
Among the threads in the larger impeachment narrative addressed by the book is the public and private maneuvering between Nadler and Schiff for the spotlight as they prosecuted Trump, which eventually led to Schiff being named the head House impeachment manager and Nadler being largely relegated to a backbench role.
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“It was the Mueller hearings that marked a fatal political blow for Nadler and boost for Schiff, according to high-level congressional sources,” Lucas writes in the book.
“When Mueller came in and Nadler had promised this grand presentation from Mr. Mueller, that was the biggest dud and undermining of what they were doing,” the book quotes “a senior level Judiciary Committee source” as saying. “I think that was strike one.”
The source, according to the book, points to the September hearing in the House Judiciary Committee featuring former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
“Nancy Pelosi, after she saw Mueller, was upset,” Lucas quotes the source as saying. “When she saw Corey Lewandowski’s thing, she basically said, ‘Nadler is done. We are not going to him for an impeachment.’”
The dynamics shifted further in Schiff’s favor when a whistleblower raised the alarm about Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump appeared to predicate military aid to Ukraine on political favors from Zeleksky. The whistleblower, a member of the intelligence committee, spoke with Schiff’s staff, who encouraged the whistleblower to lodge a formal complaint. The complaint, filed with the Intelligence Committee Inspector General, put the ball squarely in the court of Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee.
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“The ambitious Schiff seemed to know what was coming and might well have been planning to seize the much-desired impeachment banner away from the beleaguered Nadler,” Lucas writes in “Abuse of Power.”
After a series of marathon impeachment hearings in the Intelligence Committee and a December recommendation from the Judiciary Committee that Trump be impeached, the House impeached the president on Dec. 18, setting into motion an eventual Senate trial in which the House would have to make its case to senators why Trump should be removed from office.
To do that, Pelosi needed to pick a group of impeachment managers to prosecute the case against the president. And when she did, she went to Schiff, who had been a central part of breaking the Ukraine scandal then holding a succession of hearings to get to the bottom of it, rather than Nadler, who had at this point been relegated to being an ancillary figure.
“On January 15, Pelosi announced the appointment of House impeachment managers to act as prosecutors in the Senate impeachment trial,” Lucas writes. “Schiff was named to lead the crew, marking the third time he led a Senate impeachment team, after the federal judge trials in 2009 and 2010. Nadler didn’t even get a co-captain role, showing how far his stock had fallen.”
The competition between Schiff and Nadler developed further as the impeachment trial began, including during a press briefing held by the impeachment managers after the proceedings were underway.
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“The next day, as the managers held a press briefing, the first question directed to Nadler was about the chief justice’s rebuke. Schiff cut off the reporter, to say, ‘I’m going to respond to the questions,'” Lucas writes. “Schiff talked for about four minutes on impeachment rules, then asked for other questions. But Nadler jumped in to say. ‘Let me add something here.’ The chairmen of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees were clearly not reading from the same script.”
The disconnect would continue.
“A week later, Schiff and five other House managers, except for Nadler, were doing another press gaggle before the trial proceedings began. Schiff was doing all the talking. Suddenly Nadler showed up, as if no one told him and he just found out. He awkwardly stood in the background, barely in the camera frame,” Lucas writes. “Nadler tried to move in front of Rep. Sylvia Garcia to be closer to the front. Garcia, being a more junior House member, graciously stepped behind him. Nadler was in camera view now, but Schiff continued to talk.”
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The book notes a different incident on Jan. 30 when Chief Justice John Roberts, who oversaw the Senate impeachment trial, asked a question and Schiff, as he had done for most questions unless he asked another impeachment manager to respond in his stead, began walking to the podium.
“Not this time,” Lucas writes of the moment that later was widely circulated online. “Nadler walked briskly, almost jogging, to the podium to answer the question. Schiff was left standing and was heard loudly whispering, ‘Jerry, Jerry, Jerry.'”
The House managers’ case eventually failed to secure a Senate conviction of the president. Only one Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, voted to convict, and only on one of the two charges leveled by the House impeachment managers.