The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Monday that the House could launch impeachment proceedings in the late fall — but warned that it would depend on public support.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who declared his personal support for impeachment last week, said on MSNBC Monday that the House “can’t let the election calendar dictate” when or if they launch a formal impeachment inquiry in his committee. But he guessed that if the panel waits for court decisions — which Nadler guessed would come in “by the end of October” — and schedules other planned hearings in September and October, they could be ready for impeachment soon after.

“If we decide to report articles of impeachment, we could get to that in the late fall … or the latter part of the year,” he said.

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Nadler’s words are the closest anyone in the Democratic House leadership has come to laying out a timeline for starting impeachment proceedings, knowing that any effort launched too close to the 2020 election could be seen as a brazen political move and backfire. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has resisted launching impeachment hearings, but as of last week, more than 50 percent of House Democrats count themselves in favor.

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That number does not line up with the general public. Recent polls show 37 percent of Americans are in favor of impeachment proceedings. Nadler said Monday that the Democrats’ first challenge would be winning more people over to their side in the coming months.

“We will hold these hearings, we will get the support of the American people, or we won’t. I suspect we will,” Nadler said.

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He also said that the specter of the GOP-led Senate acquitting President Trump should not dissuade the House if they secured that public support. If the House starts impeachment and the Senate acquits Trump, “then we’ll defeat a lot of Republican senators next year,” Nadler said, “because they will show themselves to be lap dogs of the president.”

But Nadler and other Democrats have a small window of time to make a big impression on the public if they want to win its support for impeachment before the end of the year. The House is not in session for another five weeks, delaying any steps that leaders are planning until September at the earliest. Judiciary Committee Democrats also have yet to file a promised court motion to enforce their subpoena for former White House lawyer Donald McGahn, seen as a key witness in laying out their obstruction case against Trump.

Even if preliminary steps fall into place, House Democrats have no guarantees that their pro-impeachment gambit will work.

In that case, “if the American people don’t support it, then maybe you don’t vote the impeachment,” Nadler reasoned Monday. “Because you have to have public support.”

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