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15 Flaws in Adam Schiff’s Case

15 Flaws in Adam Schiff’s CaseAdam Schiff did most of the heavy lifting for the House managers, and if he performed ably, he also relied on arguments and tropes that don’t withstand scrutiny.The Democratic case for impeachment and removal is now heavily encrusted with clichés, widely accepted by the media, meant to give their indictment additional weight.In his lengthy opening statement last week, Schiff relied on all of them, and then some.This is not to say that the basic charge against Trump — withholding defense aid to Ukraine to try to force investigations that he wanted — is wrong, or that Trump’s conduct was proper.It’s just that to try to get it to the level of impeachment and removal requires rhetorical gymnastics. Schiff strained to make Trump’s Ukraine scheme a piece of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, to exaggerate its national-security and electoral consequence, and to portray removal as the only remedy.Here are 15 times that Schiff related a stilted, distorted, or flatly erroneous version of events: 1. “Just as he made use of Secretary Clinton’s hacked and released emails in the previous presidential campaign.”Schiff wanted to connect Trump to Russia’s hacking, even though there is no connection. So he said Trump “made use” of the emails. But what does that mean? That he cited them. Well, so did everyone else. As Byron York pointed out the other day, the press widely reported on the WikiLeaks disclosures. If it was blameworthy to make a big deal of information revealed in the hacks, Bernie Sanders was a major offender, calling for the resignation of then–DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz after the DNC hack. 2. “In 2016, then–candidate Trump implored Russia to hack his opponent’s email account.”Again, this is an attempt to make Trump responsible for Russia’s hacking. It refers to a press conference where Trump made a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Russians' being rewarded by the press if they found Hillary’s missing emails. The Russians did attempt to spearfish a domain used by Clinton’s personal office on the same day, but it’s hard to believe Russian hackers were taking their cues from Trump, and of course, they had already hacked the DNC — hence, the occasion for Trump’s riff. 3. In pushing the Ukrainians on the discredited CrowdStrike theory, Trump was “attempting to erase from history his previous election misconduct.”Trump has been, no doubt, desperate to find someone else to finger for the Russian hacking since Russia is such a focus of his critics, but the hacking wasn’t his work, so to refer to it as “his previous election misconduct” is absurd. 4. Robert Mueller testified “that Russia systemically interfered in our election to help elect Donald Trump, that the campaign understood that, and they willfully made use of that help.” Schiff wants to portray Mueller as having found Trump guilty in his probe, when he actually found no evidence of collusion. 5. After Mueller catalogued Russian interference, the very next day, “President Trump is on the phone with a different foreign power, this time Ukraine, trying to get Ukraine to interfere in the next election.”In the Schiff version, a Trump caught red-handed working with the Russians to interfere in U.S. politics then immediately turns around to work with the Ukrainians. But the opposite was true. It was Trump’s sense of outraged innocence over the Mueller probe that partly motivated him to focus on Ukraine’s purported role in getting the Russia investigation started. 6. Trump believes “that under Article II, he could do anything he wants.”This has become a favorite chestnut of Democrats during impeachment, but it wrenches Trump’s statement out of context. He was talking about having the inherent Article II power to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Whatever you might have thought about the wisdom of such a move, Trump was correct about his power. 7. “The military aid that we provide Ukraine helps to protect and advance American national-security interests in the region and beyond.” This is certainly true, but every time Democrats revert to the importance of Ukrainian defense aid as a matter of policy, it raises the question of why, by and large, Democrats went along with Barack Obama’s refusal to provide any lethal assistance to Ukraine whatsoever and how Trump, overall, has been better on Ukraine assistance. 8. Trump is guilty of “abusing the powers of that office in such a way to jeopardize our national security.”It’s ridiculous to suggest that what turned out to be a brief hold on Ukraine aid had dire national-security consequences for the U.S. 9. “He personally asked a foreign government to investigate his opponent.”This has become the conventional way that Democrats refer to Trump’s request of Zelensky, although in concrete form it became a push to get them to commit to probe Burisma, the shady Ukrainian energy company that had Hunter Biden on its board. An investigation of Burisma is not the same thing as an investigation of Joe Biden. Assuming the Bidens aren’t at the center of some corrupt scheme involving Burisma (and there’s zero indication that they are), the investigation would have been a nothingburger in its impact on U.S. politics. Trump would have touted the investigation, but it is doubtful that this would have had any more impact than his already full-throated denunciations of Biden corruption. 10. Trump was asking the Ukrainians to help “smear a political opponent.”This accords more with Schiff’s fictional version of Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president than the reality. The Ukrainians weren’t being asked to manufacture evidence against Joe Biden, and an investigation of Burisma presumably wouldn’t have smeared him, per the above point. 11. Acting ambassador Bill Taylor testified that the Trump team wanted the Ukrainians “in a public box” by publicly committing to the investigations, and this shows that “President Trump didn’t care about the investigations being done.”Schiff’s theory is that Trump wanted only a public announcement of an investigation, so he could use it against Joe Biden in his campaign. Usually, though, if you want an official to publicly commit to something, it’s to make it harder for him to back out of his promise. 12. Trump doesn’t have a right to solicit “prohibited foreign aid in his reelection.”This makes it sound like Trump was raking in Ukrainian campaign contributions and getting the Ukrainians to run ads in swing states. In reality, he was pushing for the Ukrainians to investigate a Ukrainian company, the practical political effect of which would have been nil in the U.S. 13. “The president’s misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box, for we can’t be assured that the vote will be fairly won.”It’s really amazing that Democrats have gone, in about three years, from insisting it’s impermissible to question the potential outcome of an election, when Trump ill-advisedly did so at a debate in 2016, to making it central to their worldview. They believe they were robbed in 2016 and also believe they will perhaps be robbed again. But Hillary lost under her own power in 2016, and regardless, it’s beyond the power of one person to rig a national election that will draw massive attention and turnout. 14. “I don’t think that impeachment power is a relic. If it is a relic, I wonder how much longer our republic can succeed.”Schiff argues that failure to remove eviscerates the impeachment power. Since no president has ever been convicted and removed, it’s not clear why this would be. It just means that there is a high bar to removal. 15. “If impeachment and removal cannot hold him accountable, then he truly is above the law.”Again, Schiff wants to portray impeachment as the only way a president can be held accountable, when Congress has all sorts of other levers — from investigations, to funding, to inter-branch relations, to censure — to hold a president accountable.



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Lindsey Graham: 'Let's not be too hard' on Adam Schiff, Democrats

Lindsey Graham: 'Let's not be too hard' on Adam Schiff, DemocratsSen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) isn't a fan of the whole impeachment saga, but he's not taking it personally.Many GOP lawmakers were angered by a comment made by lead impeachment prosecutor Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during his closing arguments Friday. "CBS News reported last night that a Trump confidant said that key senators were warned, 'Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.' I don't know if that's true," Schiff said.But Graham wasn't among the affronted. He said the comment was "over the top," but he's been in Schiff's shoes, so he understand that things can get away from you every once in a while in a tense environment.> .@LindseyGrahamSC, via @ckmarie, on Schiff's "head on a pike" comments: "Over the top, but let's not be too hard here. I've been in their shoes, you've been doing this for three days, you're passionate about what you believe, you're trying to appeal to our better nature."> > — Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) January 25, 2020Overall, Graham was complimentary of the Democrats arguments, even if the chance that they swayed his opinion is negligible. > With a few exceptions, the House managers presented their case in a professional, articulate manner respectful of the body. > > They were prepared and very, very, very thorough. > > The other side of the story will be presented tomorrow and then we decide.> > — Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 25, 2020More stories from theweek.com Trump is winning the impeachment battle — but losing the war Despite apparent preference for 'moderate' candidate, Iowans back Sanders in latest poll Trump debuts official Space Force logo — and it's literally a ripoff of Star Trek



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The best of Adam Schiff from the impeachment trial

The best of Adam Schiff from the impeachment trialRep. Adam Schiff received praise for his performance during President Trump's impeachment trial — including from some Republicans.



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Several senators left the chamber in the middle of Adam Schiff's impeachment remarks

Several senators left the chamber in the middle of Adam Schiff's impeachment remarksAs House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) delivered his remarks during Wednesday's impeachment proceedings, several senators — on both sides — reportedly grew restless.Some lawmakers, like Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), were reportedly standing for the last hour of Schiff's presentation, while Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) were caught roaming around. A few folks were reportedly waiting impatiently by the door, and others like Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), who was caught taking a quick snooze during Tuesday's portion of the trial, felt the need to get their blood pumping and left the room completely.It appears that Schiff could sense the atmosphere and subsequently gave everyone a 10-minute warning, but that reportedly just propelled people to bolt for the door even more quickly. All told, there were somewhere between 20 and 30 empty chairs by the end of the speech.> Talk about restlessness: Senators were expecting a brief recess at 3:08. A half dozen Rs were literally waiting by the door.> > When Schiff declared he had 10 mins left, many bolted for the exits anyways. I counted 20+ empty desks on R side, and 6+ on Dem side.> > — Sarah Ferris (@sarahnferris) January 22, 2020Sure, it's not the best look for elected members of the upper chamber deliberating over something as historic as impeachment, but they've had a long couple of days. Sometimes you just need to stretch your legs.More stories from theweek.com Trump outright brags he's withholding 'all the material' to beat impeachment The only thing we don't know about the outcome of Trump's impeachment trial Republican and Democratic senators alike are pleading for impeachment decorum



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Rep. Adam Schiff turns over Pence aide's classified letter to Judiciary Committee

Rep. Adam Schiff turns over Pence aide's classified letter to Judiciary CommitteeHouse Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has submitted to the Judiciary Committee a classified letter from an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.



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Jim Banks Asks Graham to Subpoena Adam Schiff’s Call Records in Letter

Jim Banks Asks Graham to Subpoena Adam Schiff’s Call Records in LetterRepresentative Jim Banks (R., Ind.) sent a letter to Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) on Wednesday asking the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman to subpoena the call records of House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), a day after Democrats revealed they subpoenaed AT&T phone records showing contact between Representative Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) and Lev Parnas.Banks also called for the phone records of Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, and the whistleblower’s lawyer Mark Zaid, in order to determine the extent of communication between Schiff and potential Republican impeachment witnesses. On Wednesday, House Democrats quickly shut down Republicans’ request during the first Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing on to have Schiff testify.“The public has a right to know with whom Rep. Adam Schiff has coordinated his impeachment effort and if America’s national security is at risk in any way as a result of Rep. Schiff’s actions,” Banks’s letter reads. “ . . . This quixotic impeachment inquiry must be shelved, Mr. Chairman. And Rep. Adam Schiff should be held to the same standard to which he holds others. It is time to see his phone records.”In its release of an impeachment report Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee revealed new information of call records showing communication between Trump 'spersonal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, his associate Lev Parnas, and House Intelligence ranking member Nunes in April.House Intelligence member Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) told CNN that the committee "subpoenaed outside third-party phone records, and that kind of weaves together the timeline and corroborates a lot of what the witnesses testified to who did come in."Following the release of the call records, Parnas’s lawyer said the Ukrainian-American had “no idea” Democrats had records of his calls, but added that “Devin Nunes was definitely part of an attempt to gather information about the Bidens.”“He was definitely involved in Ukraine,” Joseph Bondy said. “He definitely had involvement in the GOP shadow diplomacy efforts in Ukraine, contrary to his claims."



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What Adam Schiff Doesn’t Get About Watergate

What Adam Schiff Doesn’t Get About WatergateHe sees Howard Baker as a noble, bipartisan impeachment hero. In reality, he was just another attack dog for Nixon. Here’s why Democrats need to get their history right.



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'Doubling down on stupid': GOP warns Adam Schiff not to block Hunter Biden as impeachment witness

'Doubling down on stupid': GOP warns Adam Schiff not to block Hunter Biden as impeachment witnessRepublican lawmakers stepped up pressure on Rep. Adam Schiff to allow them to call Hunter Biden to testify in the impeachment inquiry.



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Transcript reveals how Adam Schiff booted Matt Gaetz from the deposition room

Transcript reveals how Adam Schiff booted Matt Gaetz from the deposition roomPresident Donald Trump’s allies took to heart his request that Republicans start fighting back against House Democrats’ impeachment investigation, and one transcript released Friday vividly captures how one such lieutenant tried to crash the proceedings. At the beginning of the closed-door testimony of Fiona Hill, the White House’s top Russia hand, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff notices a face out of place: Rep. Matt Gaetz, a flamethrowing congressman and Trump ally from the Florida Panhandle. According to the transcript, Schiff interrupts the opening statement of Rep. Jim Jordan, asking whether there is anyone in the room not on the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs or Oversight committees that are conducting the closed-door portion of the investigation.



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Adam Schiff, a Trump Punching Bag, Takes His Case to a Bigger Ring

Adam Schiff, a Trump Punching Bag, Takes His Case to a Bigger RingLOS ANGELES — The crowd was buzzing with Hollywood types — actress Patricia Arquette, producer Norman Lear — at a private film screening on Sunset Boulevard one recent Sunday afternoon. But here in liberal America, the biggest celebrity in the room was not someone who makes a living in what people call "the industry."It was Rep. Adam Schiff, the straight-laced former federal prosecutor who was on the brink of prosecuting his biggest defendant yet: President Donald Trump.These are heady but perilous days for Schiff, the inscrutable and slightly nerdy chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who is leading the impeachment inquiry into Trump. Adored by the left, reviled by the right, he has become a Rorschach test for U.S. politics. Depending on one's point of view, he is either going to save the republic or destroy it.Here in his home district, at the screening of "The Great Hack," a film about misinformation in the 2016 election, Lear introduced Schiff as a "current American hero." As the audience leapt to its feet in a standing ovation, the congressman emerged from backstage in standard Washington uniform — navy blazer, white shirt, light blue tie — his manner as inoffensive as his attire."We thank them for their patriotism," Schiff said somberly, praising whistleblowers, including the anonymous one whose complaint against Trump prompted the impeachment inquiry, "and we hope others will follow their courageous example."Now Schiff, 59, is poised to take a much bigger stage as his inquiry moves from a secure office suite in a Capitol Hill basement into nationally televised public hearings. He will make the case against Trump to a divided nation, in what amounts to an epic courtroom drama meant to unveil evidence of the president's pressure campaign to enlist Ukraine to smear his political rivals — a moment that is bound to be must-watch TV.At home in his district, which stretches from West Hollywood to Pasadena and north to the San Gabriel Mountains, Schiff is well acquainted with the celebrity lifestyle.He lives with his wife, Eve (yes, Adam and Eve), and their two children in suburban Maryland, but they also have an apartment in Burbank, home to Walt Disney Studios. He favors vegan Chinese food and drives an Audi whose license plate frame bears a line from the movie "The Big Lebowski" ("I don't roll on Shabbos"), from which he can quote at length. He has dabbled at screenwriting, once drafting a script that featured a prosecutor as the hero. He tried stand-up comedy, too, during a fundraiser at the Improv in Hollywood."He did a whole riff on being a nihilist," said one of his best friends, former congressman Steve Israel, who joined him onstage. "Basically, we got told to stick to our day jobs."But if Schiff has a sense of humor (his friends insist he does have a dry one), he rarely shows it in Washington, where he has carefully cultivated his image as the stylistic and substantive opposite of Trump: calm, measured, reserved and brainy.He makes no secret of his disdain for the president, who refers to him as "Little Pencil Neck" or "Shifty Schiff" when he is not replacing the congressman's surname with a similar-sounding expletive. In an interview, Schiff called Trump a "grave risk to our democracy" who is conducting an "amoral presidency" and has debased his office with "infantile" insults."What comes through in the president's comments and his tweets and his outrage and his anger toward me in particular is, this president feels he has a God-given right to abuse his office in any way he sees fit," Schiff said.Trump and his allies, sensing the threat posed by Schiff's inquiry and divided over how to defend the president against damning testimony, have united in trying to undermine the congressman's credibility. They sought unsuccessfully to have the House censure him and have accused him of running a "Soviet-style impeachment inquiry."On Saturday, Trump proclaimed him "a corrupt politician" on Twitter and claimed that if Schiff "is allowed to release transcripts of the Never Trumpers & others that are & were interviewed, he will change the words that were said to suit the Dems purposes."Republicans who work side by side with him on the Intelligence Committee contend that he has changed as his star has risen alongside Trump's. A figure they once saw as a serious and studious policy wonk they now describe in viscerally negative terms, as a liar and a hypocrite who will stop at nothing to oust a duly elected president.Schiff has an "absolute maniacal focus on Donald Trump" said one committee Republican, Rep. Michael Turner of Ohio, who accused Schiff of routinely lying to the press and the public about what happened in private interviews and conducting the inquiry's initial hearings out of public view so he and other Democrats could distort the findings.And Schiff has let the publicity go to his head, Turner said: "Schiff finds the media intoxicating. And he is pretty much willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top of the media cycle."Schiff has made some missteps. His dramatized description of the president's phone call with the leader of Ukraine drew attacks from the president and Republican lawmakers, who said he was fabricating evidence — and surprised even a close friend, Alice Hill, who knows the congressman from their days as young prosecutors in Los Angeles."I was a bit surprised because he is reserved and not prone to overstatement, very careful with his words, very careful with the facts and keeping to the facts," she said, adding, "It felt out of character."And Schiff's assertion that he had not had any contact with the whistleblower who incited the inquiry drew a "false" rating from The Washington Post; the whistleblower had approached his panel for guidance before filing his complaint. Schiff conceded he "should have been much more clear" about that.Democrats, who are united behind Schiff, counter that the attacks are opportunistic; Republicans, they said, are attacking Schiff over process because they cannot defend the president on the merits of his behavior.There is little room for error as Schiff pushes the inquiry forward in the coming months. His performance could determine not only Trump's future but also his own. Schiff is a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and viewed by some as her possible successor. At a recent news conference, Pelosi — not ordinarily one to cede control — took the rare step of sitting with reporters to watch admiringly as the congressman spoke."He's a full package," Pelosi said in an interview, praising Schiff as "always gracious, always lovely." She added, "He knows his purpose, and his purpose is not to engage in that silliness that the president is engaged in."A lawyer educated at Stanford University and Harvard Law School, Schiff tried his first big case three decades ago when, as a young federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, he secured the conviction of an FBI agent who was seduced by a Soviet spy and traded secrets for gold and cash. In 1996, he won a seat in the California Senate; in 2000, he was elected to the House by beating a Republican who had been a manager in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.In Washington, Schiff joined the Blue Dogs, a group of conservative Democrats, and made a name for himself as a national security expert. He joined the Intelligence Committee in 2008 — drawn to it, Israel said, because he viewed it as "a quiet place for bipartisanship."His breakout moment came in 2014, when the Republican-led House established a committee to investigate attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Schiff had argued that Democrats should not participate in what he viewed as a partisan exercise, but Pelosi put him on the committee.But it was the election of Trump that elevated Schiff's profile and made him a sought-after speaker and fundraiser in Democratic circles. As the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee last term, when Republicans still had the majority, he vigorously investigated Russian election interference and questions around whether the Trump campaign had conspired with hostile foreign actors, becoming the most recognizable public face explaining the biggest story in Washington on national TV. When Democrats won the majority in the House, he helped Pelosi draft an investigative strategy.Schiff was a late convert to the impeachment push; like Pelosi, he held back until revelations about Ukraine emerged. For the last five weeks, he has spent much of his time in a secure room four floors below the Capitol, overseeing the closed-door questioning of witnesses. He opens each witness interview and sometimes steps in to conduct questioning himself."The American people have a right to know — they have a need to know — how deep this misconduct goes," he said, adding, "There's no hiding the president's hand in any of this."These days, Schiff has tried to tightly control his public profile. He goes on television less than he used to and zips wordlessly through the Capitol, trailed by a phalanx of aides and a scrum of journalists, smiling wanly as they pepper him with questions.It has all given him "a new appreciation" of the struggles his celebrity constituents face in maintaining their privacy, he said. And he is well aware that, out there in the rest of the U.S., he has become a polarizing figure."I feel I've become kind of a human focus group," he said during a panel discussion after the screening here. "People will stop me in the airport in close succession. One will come up to me and say, 'Are you Adam Schiff? I just want to shake your hand — you're my hero,' immediately to be followed by someone else who says, 'Why are you destroying our democracy?' "The congressman paused and concluded that both couldn't be right "because last time I checked, I'm the same person."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company



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