What is behind Nadler’s impeachment posturing?

President Donald Trump speaks July 30 in Jamestown, Va. Lindsey Boylan, a recent deputy secretary for economic development for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and opponant of Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, has staked out a committed position to impeach Trump. Zach Gibson/Getty Images/TNS

First elected to Congress in 1992, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York is a well-established member of the Democratic establishment and a loyal follower and supporter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. So, what’s behind Nadler’s pointed determination to pursue President Donald Trump’s impeachment? Nadler appears to be ignoring the speaker’s wishes. Perhaps there is more here than meets the eye.

It has been underreported that Nadler faces a credible challenger in New York’s Democratic primary in 2020. Specifically, Nadler’s opponent is the capable-appearing Lindsey Boylan. Boylan — who is 35 years old, a recent deputy secretary for economic development for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a daughter of a Marine — has several things going for her. She has raised more than $250,000, which might not sound like a lot but is already more than triple what Nadler’s Republican challenger raised in 2018. With nine months to go until the primary, this energetic young progressive may just be getting started.

Boylan has staked out a committed position to impeach Trump, and she accuses Nadler of being soft and ineffective as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “We need a leader, not a follower,” she told Politico this month, adding that Nadler is “trying to place the blame on someone else, Nancy Pelosi. I don’t think that is a way to lead.” To state the obvious, Nadler looks a lot more like Joseph Crowley, the longtime incumbent whom Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., defeated in a 2018 primary, than he does a recruit for “the Squad.” Conversely, Boylan seems a more experienced version of Ocasio-Cortez.

To put it bluntly, Nadler is in a tough spot. You have to assume Pelosi has given him a pass to appear to be outside her control. The Judiciary Committee chair can look like he is proceeding with impeachment without going too far. This means Nadler must maintain some sort of political Brownian motion, always appearing to be on the move but never really going anywhere. Members of Congress have enjoyed reelection rates of 90 percent or higher since 2012, and primary challengers face a steeper hill to climb. But there are local factors that suggest Boylan might have a better chance than your average long-shot candidate.

The boroughs of New York have a history of Democrat insurgency that long predates Ocasio-Cortez. In 1970, Bella Abzug beat a 14-year incumbent in a primary in a district made up of parts of Manhattan. Two years later, Elizabeth Holtzman beat a 50-year incumbent (one of the House’s longest-serving members) in a Brooklyn district to become at the time the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. There is not only precedent at play here but also a pattern. Longtime incumbents House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., also face primary challenges this cycle — in Engel’s case, one backed by the same Justice Democrats political action committee that helped propel Ocasio-Cortez to victory last year.

It’s impossible to determine exactly how much of Nadler’s push for impeachment is driven by a longing for the Klieg lights as opposed to the fear of an appealing young primary opponent. But no discussion of the internal workings of a Democratic House would be complete without a reference to legendary House Speaker Tip O’Neill, who is credited with saying that “all politics is local.” You can bet that this is something Nadler has brought up more than once in private discussions with Pelosi. In a year when Democrats are supposed to be on offense, a number of them are feeling threatened within their own party.

Ed Rogers writes for the Washington Post.



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(7) comments

hermit thrush

to jackie (the commenting system won't let me reply directly to your latest comment): if you were actually participating in this discussion in good faith, instead of acting like a troll, then you would be perfectly capable of taking the

as a further hint, justin amash has _left the gop_ because he read the mueller report and concluded from it that trump should be impeached. let me assure you he is not doing this out of political expediency. if he can find legitimate reasons to believe trump should be impeached, then so can jerry nadler and everyone else.

hermit thrush

nuts, there seems to have been an html error in my comment, which resulted in part of it getting cut off. it should have said:

... perfectly capable of taking the less than ten minutes needed to google the serious reasons to impeach trump. the mueller report alone lays out a treasure trove of them. mueller made clear that trump is guilty as sin of multiple counts of obstruction of justice. that right there is your impeachable offense. how on earth you can gloss over this, jackie, or fail to bring it up on your own, is beyond me. just like it is beyond me how the original column can omit this, and how the wdt can choose this out of a sea of columns to print.

hermit thrush

it is incredible that the author of this piece fails to consider the possibility that nadler genuinely believe trump has committed impeachable offenses and is simply doing what he believes is right.

Holmes -- the real one

Somehow that's not surprising.

Ed Rogers:





Nice Johnson publications choice.


Yeah, it can't possibly have anything to do with politics and wanting to get re-elected. Politicians never do stuff like that, especially democrats.

hermit thrush

to focus _exclusively_ on cynical political motives is ridiculous.


How so? Politicians do it all the time. Has Nadler said what impeachable offense Trump has committed? Have any of them? Other than the fact that he's a reprehensible human being?

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