When the country’s House Democratic committee chairs met for a regular Zoom taping earlier this year — one of the leaders was asleep at the wheel.
As the nation’s most powerful elected officials planned, strategized, and also briefed their colleagues on what they were doing, Rep. Jerry Nadler — chairman of the House Judiciary Committee — took a nap.
“He was Rock-A-Bye Baby. Meetings usually last half an hour and he was out for about 15 minutes,” a Democratic Hill staffer who was on the call told The Post.
The assistant said no one bothered to wake the sleeping giant and things were buzzing without him.
“It’s just a known thing,” the assistant said of Nadler’s set of rehearsals.
The moment sums up the concerns of Nadler’s colleagues on both sides of the aisle that the 75-year-old congressional workhorse, who spent three decades in the House and just beat veteran Carolyn Maloney in a key primary in Manhattan last month, has slowed considerably.
“Staff have to regularly wake him up during hearings,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), who sits with Nadler on the committee, told The Post.
“I don’t think it’s like Dianne Feinstein,” said a House Democrat who works closely with Nadler – referring to the famous 89-year-old California senator. “You can just tell he’s not…as engaged with others.”
Two House insiders say Nadler’s deterioration played a role in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to sideline him during former President Trump’s first impeachment hearing in 2019.
Pelosi instead assigned Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff to lead the party’s first impeachment inquiry — a move Nadler was forced to accept, The Washington Post reported at the time.
When his committee debated articles of impeachment against Trump in December 2019, Nadler was catching Zzzs again.
“During Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) speaking time, Nadler fell asleep on live television in front of millions of viewers. I was in the room when it happened, and it took everything for us to hold back the laughter,” one GOP staffer recalled. Video of Nadler falling asleep goes around social media.
“He’s also been known to take extended breaks when hearings get particularly late at night, giving the gavel to another member to preside over while he’s away – we have no idea where he goes,” said added the same wizard.
As things got contentious at the hearing, several GOP officials called on Nadler to cave in on a point of order, prompting the troubled president’s aide to hover behind him like a hummingbird and whisper to him to the ear.
At one point, Nadler was caught on a hot mic asking, “Is that a point of order?”
“I’m not trying to be mean, but he’s definitely a little out of his mind. The general rhetoric is that California Rep. Zoe Lofgren is next and we don’t want someone that savvy. in charge because she’s certainly not out of place,” said another GOP staffer close to the committee. “With Nadler, there’s a pattern where it’s really not clear what his mental state is. I’ll just be honest.
“Like 2 p.m. or after lunch – Jerry [will] be on low power and you can rely on watching and seeing him asleep,” a third committee insider added.
During his 2022 primary run against Maloney, a bewildered Nadler stumbled into a debate, at one point bragging “I impeached Bush twice.”
Nadler’s wife, Joyce Miller, began battling pancreatic cancer in January 2020 and is still battling the disease. Several people familiar with Nadler’s situation say his struggles have only worsened since his diagnosis.
“There has been a noticeable change since his wife has been ill,” lamented a fellow Democrat.
Nadler himself had a long history of health issues. In 2019, the congressman nearly collapsed during a press conference in Manhattan and had to be rushed to hospital. He had gastric bypass surgery in 2002 and was once so obese he couldn’t use the subway.
Representatives for Nadler did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.
New York Post