When the country’s House Democratic committee chairs gathered for a regular Zoom check-in earlier this year — one of the leaders was asleep at the wheel.
As the nation’s most powerful elected officials planned, strategized and informed their colleagues about what they were up too, Rep. Jerry Nadler — chairman of the House Judiciary Committee — napped.
“He was Rock-A-Bye Baby. The meetings are usually half an hour and he was out for about 15 minutes,” a Democratic Hill staffer who was on the call told The Post.
The aide said nobody bothered to wake the sleeping giant, and things hummed along without him.
“It’s just a known thing,” the aide said of Nadler’s serial snoozing.
The moment encapsulates concerns among Nadler’s colleagues on both sides of the aisle that the 75-year-old congressional warhorse, who has spent three decades in the House and just beat veteran Rep. Carolyn Maloney in a key Manhattan primary last month, has slowed down considerably.
“Staff regularly have to wake him up during hearings,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), who serves with Nadler on the committee, told The Post.
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“I don’t think it’s like Dianne Feinstein,” said one House Democrat who works closely with Nadler — referencing the famously out-of-it 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 tasked Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff to lead the party’s first impeachment probe — a decision Nadler was forced to accept, the Washington Post reported at the time.
When his committee debated the articles of impeachment against Trump in December 2019 — Nadler was catching Zzzs again.
“During Rep. Mike Johnson’s (R-Louisiana) time to speak, Nadler fell asleep on live TV 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 nodding off made the rounds on social media.
“He’s also known for taking prolonged breaks when hearings go particularly late into the night, giving the gavel to another member to chair while he’s away — we have no idea where he goes,” the same aide added.
As things became contentious during the hearing, multiple GOP representatives demanded Nadler yield for a point of order, prompting the flustered chairman’s aide to flutter behind him like a hummingbird, and whisper in his 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 really is kind of out of it. The general talk is that California Rep. Zoe Lofgren is next in line and we don’t want someone that savvy in charge because she is definitely not out of it,” said another GOP staffer close to the committee. “With Nadler there is a pattern where it’s really not clear what his mental state is. I’ll just be honest.”
“Like 2 p.m. or following lunch — Jerry [will] be at low power and you can count on looking there and seeing him asleep,” a third committee insider added.
During his 2022 primary race against Maloney, a discombobulated Nadler stumbled thorough a debate, at one point boasting “I impeached Bush twice.”
Nadler’s wife, Joyce Miller, began fighting pancreatic cancer in January 2020 and is still battling the illness. Several people familiar with Nadler’s situation say his struggles have only escalated since her diagnosis.
“There’s been noticeable shift since his wife is ill,” lamented a Democratic colleague.
Nadler himself has had a long history of health problems. In 2019 the Congressman nearly collapsed at a Manhattan press conference and had to be rushed to a hospital. He famously underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2002 and was once so obese he couldn’t use the subway.
Reps for Nadler did not respond to request for comment from The Post.