WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats on Wednesday elected longtime New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler to serve as the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, which would take the lead on impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump if Democrats reclaim the House majority next year.
The 14-term Nadler is replacing former Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, who resigned in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. Nadler outdistanced Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California for the position, winning by a vote of 118-72.
Democrats look forward to Nadler's "fierce, fearless leadership to defend the promise of justice and liberty for all," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.
Pelosi's statement made no mention of the potential impeachment actions if Democrats capture control of the House in the 2018 elections.
Nadler, who was elected to the House in 1992, said the country is possibly headed toward a constitutional crisis. He told colleagues he was best prepared to safeguard civil rights and civil liberties from a Trump administration that he says is constantly attacking them. Lofgren emphasized her expertise on immigration issues.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, freshman member of the committee, said she was looking for someone who could lead Democratic fights on a committee that she described as extremely partisan.
"I think we need a bulldog," said Jayapal, D-Wash.
At the same time, she said she wanted someone steeped in the broad range of issues that come before the committee such as intellectual property laws issues, criminal justice and immigration.
Democrats voiced concerns that Republicans are laying the groundwork for stifling the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller into Russia's meddling in the 2016 elections. They wanted someone who could lead the fight to ensure the investigation is allowed to run its course.
"What proved decisive was the concern in the caucus about making sure we have a constitutional expert at the head of the committee on our side given what we're facing," said Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va.