House Democrats on Monday blocked a Republican resolution to censure Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who has become the face of Democrats’ impeachment quest.
The pursuit of President Trump for allegedly pressuring Ukraine to investigate political rival Joseph R. Biden is being conducted by the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform committees.
However, it’s the California Democrat who stands alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for every televised update on the investigation.
Republicans accuse him of running an unfair, partisan inquisition behind closed doors. But predictably, the GOP minority’s attempts to punish the California Democrat fell short Monday.
Despite having more than 170 co-sponsors, Republicans failed to crack into the Democratic majority firewall. The resolution was tabled — and effectively killed — on a 218-185 vote.
House Republicans argued Mr. Schiff should be removed from his position as the investigation’s frontman because of his staff’s early connection to the whistleblower who put forward the allegations against Mr. Trump and for leading an unfair, secretive and biased process.
“Right now, one person is having all of the power, instead of the people across America actually have a say in this process. And now they are bringing Adam Schiff, who has lied numerous times to the American public, in charge of this process?” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Fox News this weekend.
“They are denying members of Congress from even being in the room or hearing the transcripts and reading them of what’s being said. Adam Schiff controls who can come into the room,” he added.
One Republican lawmaker compared Mr. Schiff’s impeachment inquiry to McCarthyism.
“Adam Schiff has done more to discredit Congress than Joseph McCarthy. Both have trafficked in false accusations and railroaded witnesses. At least McCarthy had the nerve to hold public hearings,” North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker said in a statement.
The California Democrat was one the most vocal lawmakers in his party when allegations of collusion with Russian actors emerged with the Steele dossier, which contained several unverified allegations against the president.
And as Republicans, led by then-Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, sought to look into whether the Trump campaign was illegally spied on, Mr. Schiff sparred with them over FISA court revelations.
That framed him as an anti-Trump hero for those on the left and the poster boy for the conspiracies against the president for those on the right.
For most of Democrats’ time in their reclaimed House majority, the impeachment push was focused on the Russia allegations probed by special counsel Robert Mueller, which fell under House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s purview.
While Democrats steadily trickled out in support of at least an impeachment inquiry into the president, the Mueller investigation never created a watershed moment for the party.
All that changed when the whistleblower’s allegations against Mr. Trump were publicly reported.
Mr. Schiff, at the time still a holdout on impeachment, was one of the first top Democrats to say the allegations may have tipped the scales — that Mr. Trump may have “crossed the Rubicon” — and helped crack the dam on the party’s resistance to impeachment.
Democrats have remained firmly in Mr. Schiff’s corner as Republicans ramped up their attacks, which Monday’s vote proved.
Top Democrats have brushed off criticism that the California Democrat is secretly rigging the process against the minority party — comparing their impeachment inquiry to special prosecutor investigations in the Nixon and Clinton impeachments.
“Chairman Schiff is a great American patriot,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement following the vote Monday. “What the Republicans fear most is the truth. The president betrayed the oath of office, our national security and the integrity of our elections, and the GOP has not even tried to deny the facts. Instead, Republicans stage confusion, undermine the Constitution and attack the person of whom the president is most afraid.”
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