Donald Trump has been growing ever more desperate to extricate House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff from his craw.
As the ranking Democrat on the committee when it began looking into claims of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Schiff was already a thorn in Trump’s side. But the face of that investigation soon became special counsel Robert Mueller. In the impeachment inquiry, however, the Justice Department has said it won’t investigate charges that Trump tried to trade military aid to Ukraine in return for help smearing Joe and Hunter Biden. That leaves Schiff front and center in the impeachment investigation—to Trump’s exponentially compounding frustration.
With no special council this time around, Schiff knows that much of the impeachment burden rests on him and his committee.
“That leaves us,” he recently told the Los Angeles Times, “and so, yes, a heavy responsibility comes with that.”
And it could just be that Schiff savors the spotlight. His tongue-in-cheek description of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Zelensky at a hearing last Thursday about the administration’s handling of the whistleblower complaint so enraged Trump that he suggested Schiff be arrested for treason.
Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2019
But short of charging the lawmaker with “treason,” Trump’s GOP cronies are bending over backward to, at the very least, annoy Schiff.
On Sunday, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted an edited clip from a January, 2018, prank phone call in which a pair of Russian shock jocks pretending to be former Ukraine parliament speaker Andriy Parubiy offered to give Schiff naked pictures of Trump.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) September 29, 2019
Though Gaetz says that the 54-second sound bite—extracted from an eight-minute call—proves Schiff was willing to accept the foreign dirt, it does more to prove how desperate Trump and his people have become to bring Schiff down.
“Before agreeing to take the call, and immediately following it, the committee informed appropriate law enforcement and security personnel of the conversation, and of our belief that it was probably bogus,” a Schiff spokesman said.
In fact, Trump has tweeted about Schiff roughly a dozen times since Thursday’s hearing. It doesn’t seem to bother Schiff.
“The president believes that it is his God-given right to shake down foreign leaders for help in his reelection, and he should not be encumbered by the public finding out about it,” Schiff, said Sunday on This Week. “That’s what has incensed the president. And I am willing to take the brunt of that.”
After watching Thursday’s hearing on Air Force One, Trump lamented that he would now have to “put up with Adam Schiff—on an absolutely perfect phone call.”
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