President Donald Trump "richly deserves impeachment," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Sunday.
Nadler, D-N.Y., whose committee holds crucial powers in the impeachment process, also said that former special counsel Robert Mueller's recent hearings before Congress about his report on Russian election meddling represented an "inflection point."
The Judiciary Committee is gathering evidence as it weighs whether to recommend impeachment to the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. Asked about his own personal feelings on impeaching Trump, Nadler was unequivocal.
"My personal view is that he richly deserves impeachment," Nadler said of Trump on CNN's "State of the Union." "He has done many impeachable offenses. He's violated the law six ways from Sunday."
"But that's not the question. The question is, can we develop enough evidence to put before the American people?" he added.
Nadler's comments came amid a growing rift in the Democratic caucus, where party leaders have shown resistance to impeachment even as more than 100 members call for an impeachment inquiry.
Impeachment is usually an unpopular political move, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has argued that Trump himself is "goading" Democrats to try and impeach him in the middle of the 2020 presidential election. And even if Trump was impeached in the House, it's highly unlikely that the GOP-majority Senate would vote for his removal.
The House in mid-July easily shot down an impeachment resolution, which was put forward by Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green following Trump's attacks on four congresswomen that were slammed as being racist by his critics.
Pelosi said Friday, just before House members headed home for a six-week summer recess, that she is not trying to "run out the clock" on impeachment, and said the decision on whether the House takes that path will come in a "timely fashion."
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who has been one of Trump's top critics in Congress, expressed his own concerns about impeachment.
"I worry ... about taking the impeachment case to trial, losing that case, having the president acquitted and then having an adjudication that this conduct is not impeachable," Schiff said on "Meet the Press" on Sunday.
"There's not a simple answer here," he added.
Nadler has long been circumspect about whether his committee will recommend impeachment to the House. But Mueller's testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence panels this past week moved the needle, the committee leader argued on CNN.
"I think the hearing the other day was an inflection point because it showed quite clearly that the report did not exonerate the president, that it found that the Russian government tried to influence our campaign, they interfered in our election, they attacked our election," he said.
"The Trump campaign welcomed that assistance and cooperated with the Russian government in trying to affect the campaign, and then the president lied repeatedly to the American people and to investigators, and conducted a corrupt coverup with at least five criminally indictable acts of obstruction of justice," he continued.
"These are very serious offenses against the rule of law, and we now have to get further evidence and put it before the American people as we consider articles of impeachment in the committee."
Mueller's testimony Wednesday rarely went beyond the contents of his 448-page report on Russian interference, possible coordination between Trump's campaign and the Kremlin and possible obstruction of justice by Trump himself.
But he was willing to say that Trump can potentially be indicted after he leaves office, and he pushed back on Trump's assertion that the Russia probe was a "witch hunt" that exonerated him.