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This article originally appeared on Creators.

 

On the afternoon of Jan. 3, life will change irrevocably and in many ways for President Donald J. Trump when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives. One of the most important changes is personified by the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), a very able politician who has known Trump — and sometimes thwarted his development schemes — for decades.

The stakes are much higher now than any gaudy edifice Trump ever wanted to build in Nadler’s home district on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (he now represents most of the island’s western neighborhoods and parts of Brooklyn as well). Nadler will be the new chair of the committee where impeachment proceedings must begin — and where the liberal Democrat has served since the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

Interviewed Wednesday on WNYC, the local NPR station in New York, Nadler left no doubt that he will approach this rogue presidency far more aggressively than his predecessor Robert Goodlatte (R-VA), whose flaccid attitude mocked any thought of accountability. His innate seriousness is itself a grave threat to Trump. As he has made clear on more than one occasion, he will proceed without fanfare, but also without fear, to follow wherever the evidence leads. And if that means impeachment, he will get there in due course.

For the moment, however, Nadler refuses any rush to judgment. His first order of business, in accordance with the new House leadership generally, is to defend special counsel Robert Mueller against any encroachment by the White House or the Justice Department.

“Republicans did everything they could to sabotage the Mueller investigation” with spurious distractions and attacks, Nadler told radio host Brian Lehrer. That nonsense is over.

Instead, the new Judiciary chair will open this new era by demanding answers from the titular head of the Justice Department.

His questions for Whitaker will demand transparency about any attempts to interfere: “Have you told the special counsel not to pursue a line of inquiry? Have you told the special counsel not to indict someone? … Have you given information about the investigation to the White House?” And perhaps even more important: Will you guarantee release of the special counsel’s report?

Should Whitaker — or his proposed successor, William Barr, who awaits Senate confirmation — seek to withhold the report, Nadler promised, “If necessary … we may have to subpoena it. But we’ll make sure that whatever Mueller finds becomes public.”

The subpoenas are in launch mode.

Some of the more excitable House Democrats introduced impeachment resolutions on the floor during the last Congress, as Nadler noted, which went nowhere. That is likely to occur again soon, for all kinds of reasons. But he is waiting for the Mueller report to determine whether there is “real evidence of serious impeachable offenses that the president has committed.”

To him, a serious impeachable offense is not just any crime, although he doesn’t doubt Trump has committed many. By that definition, even the role of “Individual-1” as an unindicted co-conspirator in the felonious payoffs to Stormy Daniels may not qualify.

“Impeachment is intended as a defense of the republic against a president who would aggrandize power, destroy liberty, destroy the separation of powers. We would need to see real evidence that the president has done various things with that kind of goal in mind,” he explained. If we were able to prove the Daniels payoff conspiracy “and if we were going to impeach the president, that would probably be article No. 6. You’d have to see a few much more serious things.”

But Nadler qualified that remark, acknowledging that a conspiracy to influence the 2016 election by unlawful activity might well be impeachable — and that the Michael Cohen payments could represent such a conspiracy.

The new Judiciary chair must expect that those campaign finance violations will soon be augmented by more grave offenses against the republic. For now, he is keeping calm — and waiting for the evidence.

IMAGE: Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) speaks during a ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

 

Blake Neff

Twitter screenshot

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On July 10, CNN's Oliver Darcy reported that Blake Neff, the top writer for Tucker Carlson's prime-time Fox News show, had been anonymously posting racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and other offensive content on an online forum for five years. Neff used racist and homophobic slurs, referred to women in a derogatory manner, and pushed white supremacist content while writing for Carlson's show. Neff resigned after CNN contacted him for comment.

As Darcy reported, in an interview with the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Neff claimed anything Carlson read during his show was initially drafted by him. Darcy also found instances where there was "some overlap between the forum and the show," as sometimes the "material Neff encountered on the forum found its way on to Carlson's show."

During a 2018 appearance on Fox's The Five to promote his book Ship of Fools, Carlson mentioned Neff by name, calling him a "wonderful writer." Carlson also included Neff in the acknowledgments of the book.


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Before joining Fox News, Neff worked at The Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet that Carlson co-founded. The outlet has published a number of white supremacists, anti-Semites, and bigots.


Carlson has a long history of promoting white supremacist content on his show. His show has featured many guests who have connections to white supremacy and far-right extremism. Carlson has regularly been praised by Neo-Nazis and various far-right extremist figures, and he's been a hero on many white supremacist podcasts. Users of the extremist online message boards 4chan and 8chan have repeatedly praised Carlson.

The manifesto released by the gunman who killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 was strewn with content that echoed talking points from Carlson's show. Days after the shooting, Carlson declared that calling white supremacy a serious issue is a "hoax" as it is "actually not a real problem in America."

Carlson has been hemorrhaging advertisers following his racist coverage of the Black Lives Matters movement and the recent protests against police brutality. Now that we know his top writer was using content from white supremacist online message boards for Carlson's show, it is more imperative than ever that advertisers distance their brands away from this toxicity.