For most of November, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff had the national spotlight to himself to attack President Donald Trump in Washington.
In London on Tuesday for a summit of NATO nations marking the 70th anniversary of the alliance, Trump used the spotlight of the world’s media to return the favor.
And, as Fox News reported, it wasn’t pretty for Schiff.
The moment came at a news conference when Trump was asked what he would like to learn from potential Schiff testimony in the Senate if the House of Representatives votes to send articles of impeachment to the upper house of Congress.
The president’s reply was brutal.
“I learn nothing from Adam Schiff. I think he’s a maniac,” Trump said. “I think Adam Schiff is a deranged human being. I think he grew up with a complex for lots of reasons that are obvious. I think he’s a very sick man, and he lies.”
The president hammered particularly hard on Schiff’s disgraceful performance at a committee hearing in late September, when the California Democrat fabricated quotes from the July 25 telephone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Since that call formed the basis for the current Democratic drive to impeach Trump, it wasn’t exactly a time or topic to be fooling around with, yet Schiff claimed he was engaging in a “parody” of the conversation.
Unamused, House Republicans circulated a motion to censure Schiff for the performance.
In his remarks Tuesday, Trump noted the potentially damaging effect of Schiff’s “parody” on the political process. At one point in early October, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even insisted to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that Schiff had stated Trump’s words accurately.
(It was so bad that dyed-in-the-wool Democrat Stephanopoulos, a former aide in the Clinton White House of the 1990s, was forced to correct her.)
In response to Trump’s comments, there was the usual outcry on the left, and, to be fair, a gathering of NATO leaders is hardly the place for domestic politics. They have a point. The odious Schiff hardly deserves that kind of attention.
But the president was answering a question that was put to him at a news conference, and he was apparently answering it honestly. (It would be tough to fake that level of disgust.)
Would most Trump supporters prefer that domestic politics didn’t get played out on an international stage?
But it was a direct question, and Trump can hardly expect the benefit of the doubt from the national media if he’d shrugged it off with some kind of non-answer.
And any actual answer about Schiff and the Senate could have been worse — Trump speaking on foreign soil about the nuts-and-bolts of a domestic political drama: Is Schiff really as ignorant as he claims to be about the identity of the so-called whistleblower? What did Schiff know and when did he know it?
The reality is that there’s no denying that Schiff used every bit of media attention he could get to attack the president during the House impeachment inquiry hearings.
On Tuesday, on an even bigger stage, Trump paid it back with interest.
And Schiff has more than earned it.
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