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Democrat Nadler and Trump: From New York feud to Russia probe

File photo. (Courtesy: Reuters, AFP) Photograph:( Others )

AFP New York, NY, USA Mar 05, 2019, 11.52 AM (IST)

When Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler opened a full-frontal investigative onslaught against President Donald Trump on Monday, it should have surprised no one: the two New Yorkers have been feuding for three decades.

The Brooklyn native, at 71 -- one year younger than his White House nemesis -- went into battle in the 1980s against Trump's New York real estate projects as a state assemblyman, and since then the two have never made up.

In January, when he became chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives, he put the billionaire president back in his sights.

The investigation he has launched, demanding documents from 81 people, companies and institutions, shows Nadler and fellow Democrats eyeing Trump for possible corruption, collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice.

The war between the two began in the 1980s when Nadler represented the affluent Upper West Side of Manhattan in the state legislature and opposed a huge development by Trump that would transform the historic district.

Launched shortly after the construction of Trump Tower on 5th Avenue, the project originally envisaged a 150-story skyscraper with Trump occupying the lavish penthouse.

But opposition from residents led in part by Nadler forced the real estate magnate to substantially revise his ambitions.

And when Nadler gained a seat in the US Congress in 1992, he continued to pressure Trump, successfully suppressing the use of federal funds in support of the project.

Presiding over any impeachment effort

In a book published in 2000, "The America We Deserve," Trump took his revenge, singling out Nadler as "one of the most egregious hacks in contemporary politics."

He has also attacked Nadler over his weight, telling the politician he should "lose 200 pounds" (90 kilograms).

Admittedly overweight, in 2002 Nadler underwent stomach reduction surgery, and radically changed his diet, resulting in a quick six-pound loss but leaving him still hefty for his five-foot, four-inch (1.63-meter) frame.

The Democrats wresting back power in the House in November's elections placed Nadler in a position of substantial power leading the Judiciary Committee.

A staunch defender of civil and LGBTQ rights and of public transport, he has made Trump's animosity toward him a point of honour.

If any of the multiple investigations of Trump do produce evidence of serious wrongdoing, Nadler will have the point position in impeachment proceedings.

He knows the routine already: in the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998 over the Monica Lewinsky affair, Nadler was one of the Democratic president's toughest defenders against the Republican attack.

But for the moment, Nadler remains cautious about what the investigations will produce on Trump.

"Impeachment is a long way down the road," he told ABC television's "This Week" on Sunday.

Story highlights

The Brooklyn native, at 71 -- one year younger than his White House nemesis -- went into battle in the 1980s against Trump's New York real estate projects as a state assemblyman, and since then the two have never made up.