'Show me where the president did anything to be impeached': House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy

He claimed Rep. Nadler decided to impeach 'the day the president was elected.'

March 3, 2019, 1:29 PM

The top Republican in the House of Representatives asserted Sunday that President Donald Trump has done "nothing" wrong, and claimed that the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has been set on impeaching Trump.

"I think Congressman [Jerrold] Nadler decided to impeach the president the day the president won the election," Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said on "This Week" Sunday.

ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos highlighted a statement Nadler made earlier on "This Week," Sunday: "Impeachment is a long way down the road."

"Well, listen to exactly what he said," McCarthy replied. "He talks about impeachment before he even became chairman, and then he says you got to persuade people to get there. There's nothing that the president did wrong."

"Nothing?" Stephanopoulos pressed.

"In this process, to be impeached? Show me where the president did anything to be impeached," the House Republican leader responded.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington Feb. 28, 2019.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney for Trump, said in public testimony before the House Oversight Committee last week that the president was directly involved in -- among other things -- hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

McCarthy said he thinks Cohen, who has been disbarred as an attorney, had the ultimate responsibility to advise Trump of legal implications in matters such as these payments.

"If I hire an attorney to make sure I carry out the law, the attorney has a responsibility to tell me what's right and wrong in the process," McCarthy said.

During Cohen's public hearing on Wednesday, Republicans emphasized Cohen's previous lies to Congress, lies that resulted in charges in the Southern District of New York and a guilty plea from Cohen.

"Liar, liar, pants on fire," said Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., during the hearing. "No one should ever listen to you and give you credibility. It's sad."

Cohen provided the committee with a check from the president that he said served as an installment of Trump's reimbursement to him for the hush money payment to Daniels in 2016. The payment is at the center of allegations that Trump may have violated campaign finance laws.

On Sunday, Stephanopoulos pressed McCarthy on the payments and apparent reimbursements made by Trump, asking how evidence such as the check doesn't serve as proof the president participated in campaign finance violations.

McCarthy said that he doesn't believe the payments are impeachable.

He also said that Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, should recuse himself from his committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"Schiff has now met Schiff's own standard of why Devin [Nunes] had to recuse himself," McCarthy said. "Adam Schiff needs to recuse himself for any new investigation."

Schiff responded to McCarthy's statement in an interview later Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation," saying "The extent of my contact was just inviting [Cohen] to testify and also trying to allay his concerns about the president's threats against him and his family, but our staff certainly sat down to interview him, and that's what you do in any credible investigation."

He added, "Mr. McCarthy, I think, can be forgiven for not knowing how to run a credible investigation for the last two years."

While some Republicans are framing the Democratic-led investigations and hearings as the seeds of impeachment, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the chairman of the Oversight Committee, told the New York Times after the hearing that "not one person on our side even mentioned the word impeachment" and that it's the Republicans who raised it during Cohen's testimony.

On "This Week" Sunday, McCarthy also responded to a New York Times report that Trump overruled intelligence officials and his own White House counsel in ordering his then-chief of staff John Kelly to grant Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner a top secret security clearance.

When asked by Stephanopoulos whether he thought the public has a right to know why the CIA was concerned with Jared Kushner, McCarthy said "the president has the right to pick, just as you said, whoever he wants."

"I know but that's not what I asked," said Stephanopoulos. "I said does Congress have a right to know the concerns about Jared Kushner and why the president overruled the CIA's concerns?"

McCarthy responded, "Well I think the president looked at [the CIA's] concerns and the president says those weren't concerns to him, so he could have him around." He added, "They give you the pluses and the minuses, whatever the concerns are, the president made the choice and he's doing a good job at it."

Just last month in an interview with ABC News, the president's daughter Ivanka Trump said that her father "had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband's clearance."

And in an interview with the New York Times in January, the president said himself that he was "never involved" with Kushner's security clearance, and that he didn't even believe that he held the "authority" to take that sort of action.

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee said that the White House refused three times to confirm or deny that memos by Kelly and then-White House counsel Don McGahn relating to Kushner's security clearance.

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