A motion to censure House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff for his so-called parody aimed at President Donald Trump has gained the support of 125 House Republicans, according to Fox News.
Although Democrats have the majority in the lower chamber, Republican members still have some room to maneuver if they want to attempt to force a floor vote on the motion, which could happen if the motion continues to pick up steam.
During a committee hearing last month, the California Democrat read what he called the “essence” of the phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as revealed by a transcript that was released by the White House. Schiff then put words in Trump’s mouth that made it seem like the president was demanding a quid pro quo from Zelensky, when the transcript made it clear that there was no such explicit demand. Trump was furious with the stunt.
Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, introduced the motion to censure Schiff. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming are among the Republicans supporting the measure.
Biggs said Schiff crossed a line with his antics.
“It misled the American people, brought the House in disrepute, and quite frankly it was over the edge and just pushed everybody over the edge.
“We’ve been watching him for two and a half years now abuse the process and we just felt like, ‘Oh my goodness, we’ve crossed the Rubicon here. He needs to be disciplined.'”
Biggs said Schiff’s misconduct goes beyond one incident.
“When he started going into closed-door sessions, when he started leaking information from emails contextually to support his position when the overall package of emails actually undercuts his position, then you know that the fix is in, in the sense that he’s not going to let fairness and due process happen here. That’s why you have to have that formal vote.”
Biggs wrote an Op-Ed for Fox News on Oct. 2 explaining why Schiff deserves to be slapped with censure.
“While Trump-hating House Democrats are backing Schiff in partisan solidarity, anyone taking a fair look at his actions over the past two years must conclude that he is unfit to lead the Democrats’ never-ending pursuit of the impeachment of the duly elected president of the United States,” Biggs wrote.
The Arizona Republican argued that Schiff had lost most of his credibility by steadfastly repeating the discredited claims that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia. Then came his performance at a hearing devoted to the serious business of governing.
“His lame attempt at comedy was the final piece of evidence proving his unworthiness to preside over the informal and unauthorized impeachment hearings being foisted upon the country by House Democrats,” Biggs wrote.
“Schiff simply does not have the gravitas that a weighty procedure such as impeachment requires. He has repeatedly shown incredibly poor judgement. He has persistently and consistently demonstrated that he has such a tremendous bias and animus against Trump that he will say anything and accept any proffer of even bogus evidence to try to remove the president from office.”
Schiff’s “parody” came as part of his opening statement at the hearing.
“We’ve been very good to your country. Very good. No other country has done as much as we have. But you know what, I don’t see much reciprocity here,” Schiff said, playing the part of Trump during the phone call.
“I hear what you want. I have a favor I want from you, though, and I’m gonna say this only seven times, so you better listen good. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it, on this and on that,” Schiff said.
“I’m gonna put you in touch with people and not just any people. I’m gonna put you in touch with the Attorney General of the United States, … Bill Barr. He’s got the whole weight of the American law enforcement behind him and I’m gonna put you in touch with Rudy. You’re gonna love him, trust me. You know what I’m asking, and so I’m only going to say this a few more times in a few more ways. And by the way, don’t call me again; I’ll call you when you’ve done what I asked.”
Schiff closed his remarks by claiming that “this is in sum and character what the president was trying to communicate with the president of Ukraine.”
He later defended his remarks as dramatic license, according to Fox News.
“My summary of the president’s call was meant to be at least, part, in parody,” he said.
“The fact that that’s not clear is a separate problem in and of itself. Of course, the president never said, ‘If you don’t understand me I’m going to say it seven more times,’ my point is, that’s the message that the Ukraine president was receiving in not so many words.”
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