Trump Lashes Out at Schiff, New Face of Impeachment Inquiry
Adam Schiff, the erudite and dogged chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is prosecuting the case of his life on Capitol Hill this fall.The 59-year old former federal attorney and Harvard Law graduate is leading the impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives and has incurred the wrath of U.S. President Donald Trump on Twitter and television.The two men have never had a civil relationship. Trump in the past has belittled Schiff as a “pencil neck” and “Liddle Schiff,” while Schiff frequently compared Trump to a mob boss.U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) addresses reporters as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) looks on during Pelosi’s weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Oct. 2, 2019.Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last week the launching of an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s high-handed dealings with Ukraine’s president and put Schiff in charge of the overall investigation, Trump has gone on a rampage in attacking Schiff.Trump used a joint appearance with the Finnish leader at the White House Wednesday to denounce Schiff as a “low life” and a “shifty, dishonest guy” and demanded that he resign. Schiff appears unfazed by the presidential attacks, and warned Trump that the Democrats would be turning up the heat.First Nadler, now SchiffFILE – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, prepares for a television interview at the Capitol in Washington, July 26, 2019.For months, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler was the face of Democrats’ investigations into a wide range of concerns about Trump’s conduct in office and during the 2016 campaign. But that all changed following the revelation that Trump withheld military aid from the embattled Ukraine as leverage in pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to assist him in digging up political dirt on former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter to undermine Biden’s bid to challenge Trump in the 2020 election.The disclosure that Trump was trying to enlist foreign assistance in his re-election campaign abruptly shifted responsibility for the impeachment probe from the Judiciary Committee to the Intelligence Committee, where Schiff has control over investigations into national security and intelligence matters. He has served in that role since Democrats assumed the majority of the U.S. House of Representatives in January. What’s more, Schiff has proved to be far more media savvy and telegenic than Nadler, which has enabled him to become the face of the impeachment inquiry.On Wednesday, Schiff and the House Democrats vowed to subpoena the White House by week’s end if administration officials refused to turn over documents related to the president’s July 25 call to the Ukrainian president. Schiff warned Trump not to ignore his committee’s attempts to obtain information for the investigation or try to tie up the investigation in court.“We are concerned that the White House will attempt to stonewall our investigation much as they have stonewalled other committees in the past,” Schiff said. “We’re not fooling around here, though.”
Trump Calls for Resignation of House Intelligence Chairman video player.
FILE – Chairman Peter Rodino, D-N.J., of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, center, chief counsel John Doar, left, and minority counsel Albert Jenner, right, gather for a news conference in Washington, March 5, 1974.Schiff faces an intense media environment that simply did not exist during previous impeachment inquiries. Billet notes that House Republicans did not conduct an investigation of similar scope for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998. But he said Schiff shares many qualities with Peter Rodino, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee during the process that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974.Billet said Schiff is “very, very methodical, straightforward, no-nonsense, really hardworking.” Early in his career, the California congressman prosecuted a high-profile case involving a former FBI agent accused of passing secrets to the Soviet Union. Schiff’s approach as a prosecutor was on display earlier this week as he pushed back against Trump’s threats to unmask and retaliate against the whistleblower.“The president wants to make this all about the whistleblower, and suggest people that come forward with evidence of his wrongdoing are somehow treasonous and should be treated as traitors and spies. This is a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses. It’s an incitement to violence,” Schiff said.Trump and his congressional Republican allies falsely accused Schiff of orchestrating a conspiracy following New York Times reports that the whistleblower approached the House Intelligence Committee with information about the allegations after filing the report with the inspector general. Trump charged without proof that Schiff had helped the whistleblower prepare his complaint against the president.“Like other whistleblowers have done before and since under Republican and Democratic-controlled committees, the whistleblower contacted the committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the intelligence community,” Patrick Boland, a spokesperson for Schiff, said in a statement.It is the latest, but certainly not the last, confrontation between Trump and Schiff — two men with contrasting temperaments whose conflict will only increase given House Democrats’ accelerated timeline for an impeachment investigation. Democrats aim to finish the investigation that will likely end in a House floor vote on impeachment by the end of the year.Watergate investigators had eight months to prepare their case against Nixon. Schiff and House Democrats want to wrap up the Trump impeachment probe within the next two months. It’s a task Billet said the chairman is up to handling.“He brings a sense of dignity and civility to the work that he does in the committee,” Billet said.