Schiff at Center of Impeachment Trial

(Reuters) – The lawmaker walking U.S. senators methodically through the case for removing President Donald Trump from office is also becoming Exhibit A in efforts by the president’s allies to defend him.

Over the first three days of Trump’s impeachment trial, the head of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee,  Adam Schiff, has led a team of Democratic lawmakers serving as prosecutors as they lay out their evidence that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 Democratic presidential contender.

Even a few of Trump’s fellow Republicans have said Schiff has made an effective case.

At the same time, Trump’s lawyers and political allies have made Schiff a central focus of their efforts to defend the president during his trial. When they laid out their written case for why Trump should be acquitted, the president’s lawyers mentioned Schiff’s name almost 100 times.

They accused the congressman of running an “unheard of procedure that denied the president any semblance of fair process,” accused him of lying and of personally orchestrating the whistleblower complaint that led to the impeachment probe.

Congressional Republicans have intensified those critiques since the start of Trump’s trial this week, accusing him of misstating the evidence against the president and running a hasty and unfair investigation.

Trump, who denies wrongdoing and denounces the impeachment process as a sham, joined that criticism on Thursday, calling the congressman “Shifty Schiff” and saying his presentation to the Senate was “loaded with lies and misrepresentations.” Then he retweeted a series of attacks from other Republicans.

A spokesman for Schiff had no immediate comment on the Republican attacks. Schiff has said in response to past salvos from Trump that the president “would much rather attack others than answer for his own conduct.”

Democrats contend that senators should convict Trump on two charges brought by the Democratic-led House – abuse of power for pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden, and obstruction of Congress for his actions to impede a House inquiry into the matter.

But the Senate, which is controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, remains unlikely to convict him. A two-thirds majority is needed to remove him from office.

House of Representatives managers Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) speak to reporters on the fourth day of the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2020. REUTERS/Erin Scott


“It is not common you would personally attack a prosecutor,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “But we are not in a courtroom. We are in a political theater – emphasis on theater.”

Standing at a lectern in the well of the Senate, Schiff told the 100 senators acting as jurors in the trial that Trump had tried to “cheat” his way to victory in November’s election, and that he had shown he “believes that he’s above the law and scornful of constraint.”

Schiff, 59, and his fellow Democrats will have one final chance on Friday to make their case before Trump’s legal team takes the floor on Saturday to rebut the evidence.Trump’s team is expected to continue to focus its attacks on Schiff.


Trump and his allies have targeted Schiff with particular intensity since the autumn, when he took leadership of the impeachment investigation.

Trump has branded the California lawmaker a “lowlife,” a “liar” and a “pencil-neck,” and once suggested that Schiff should perhaps be arrested for treason.

Schiff, who represents a Los Angeles district, is a former federal prosecutor and a political ally of House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Over the past two years, he became a prolific defender of the government’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. In March, all the Republicans on the intelligence panel he heads asked that he resign.

Schiff has had a leading role in making the Democrats’ case before the Senate, delivering their opening argument and weaving together detailed accounts of testimony from Trump aides and others about the administration’s efforts to secure investigations in Ukraine.

Republican Senator John Kennedy said Schiff’s presentation was eloquent. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s closest allies in the chamber, told reporters before the trial resumed on Thursday that Schiff and the other Democrats “did a good job of taking bits and pieces of the evidence and creating a quilt out of it.”

For his part, Schiff thanked senators at the end of Thursday’s eight-hour session for “keeping an open mind about all of the issues that we are presenting.”

Still, there has been no sign he has moved any Republicans to vote for a conviction. But Schiff has another audience for his eloquence – American voters who will decide on Nov. 3 whether to re-elect Trump.

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  • Pearadox

    Adam Schiff makes a valid point that the defenders and Trump should be reasoning their actions, rather than simply accusing Schiff a liar for his claims and evidence. Although history is on Trump’s side, towards him being acquitted, this impeachment and trial might make Americans second guess a second term for him.

    • 1:35 pm - January 25, 2020

  • Blue-Beetle

    I really don’t like Trump. In my opinion, he is not a very good person but, that does not mean that I think he should be impeached. If the trend continues of impeaching presidents for actions that don’t warrant impeachment, then every president will be impeached and it will mean nothing and defeat the purpose.

    • 1:26 pm - January 26, 2020

  • Blue-Beetle

    I really don’t like Trump. In my opinion, he is not a very good person but, that does not mean that I think he should be impeached. If the trend continues of impeaching presidents for actions that don’t warrant impeachment, then every president will be impeached and it will mean nothing and defeat the purpose.

    • 1:26 pm - January 26, 2020

  • DogBites

    Trump should really watch what comes out of his mouth. Sure, it can be satisfying to bring someone by giving them clever nicknames and suggesting they be arrested, but a president should have more control over himself.
    As for the Republicans controlling the Senate, that seems a little unfair. If every member of a party was completely loyal to the party, this would mean the Republicans could get a majority vote in the Senate on pretty much anything they wanted. Of course, the House of Representatives exists, which checks this slight unfairness, but suppose the Republicans managed to gain dominance in both Houses? Then Trump would be completely safe from impeachment, even if he had committed a terrible crime. Again, this is assuming that every member of a party is loyal only to their respective party and can’t make individual decisions, which thankfully isn’t true.
    If I made any error in judgement in this argument, please correct me.

    • 8:10 pm - January 26, 2020

  • star2199

    With myself not being a huge fan of Trump, I’m relieved that we may finally be getting somewhere with this extra long impeachment trial. Schiff made very good points and was told so by many but wasn’t able to get any Republicans to move over. With there being 53 Republicans in the Senate, Schiff, is going to have a harder time getting a 2/3 majority vote when majority are on the side of the president. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham with her sarcastic remark made it obvious to Schiff that he is going to dig deeper to get allies for Trump to turn sides. I think there is a chance to get Trump impeached but with the 2020 election nearing, there is now just hope that the public will make a smart decision in who our next president will be.

    • 8:40 pm - January 26, 2020

  • foundingfathers20

    As a voter, it is so hard to know what is true and what is not. I agree that it is very likely that this impeachment trial will change some American’s minds before the next presidential election. But I also wonder if there will be fewer voters because through this impeachment process and battle between Schiff and Trump’s lawyers, we see some of the ugly parts of the government and the lack of trust within it. I think that because Trump is so loud and can be really unprofessional, especially in his tweets, it makes sense that people are opposed to him being president. I am not sure where I stand and what to believe in this trial, but it seems like the world of politics really is a theater, just as Jessica Levinson stated.

    • 7:57 am - January 27, 2020

  • cricket

    Senator schiff seems very childish in the way he is trying to prove his point to the jury and trumps lawyers seem no better to me nealy stating schiffs name 100 times from what I have seen this far schiff has not pushed one point and event very hard just small points and small of topic events almost like he is just poitig fingers ad making things up as he goes.

    • 10:38 am - January 27, 2020

  • lol

    Trump won’t get impeached, however, I think the way Trump branded Schiff will have a negative effect on the way Trump is viewed. I don’t agree with how Trump handles issues through social media but I think Trump will be elected again, because he does still have a lot of supporters.

    • 10:54 am - January 27, 2020

  • The Dragonmaster

    The way Trump branded Schiff may put a dent in his numbers but Schiff has said some things in this trial that don’t add up especially to removal of office.

    • 1:45 pm - January 27, 2020

  • govwrld

    Trump’s defense team has called upon Adam Schiff and is building much of their case around how Schiff supposedly lied and orchestrated the whistle blower compliant against Trump. Schiff countered by stating that both Trump and his allies would rather attack and try to revert attention onto someone else then take responsibility for their actions.

    • 2:04 pm - January 27, 2020

  • sulplu123

    Perhaps it is true that Schiff didn’t give Trump a fair process but this does not discredit the information. Schiff exposed Trump for his abuse of power and Trump supporters and lawyers are simply grasping at straws, attempting to make Trump look innocent. They are unable to do so, however, and now seem to be resorting to criticizing Schiff. It seems Trump and his supporters might be better off taking responsibility for his actions and doing whatever he can to make up for them.

    • 2:57 pm - January 27, 2020

  • fadinglight

    From just reading this article the phrase ¨a political theater¨ stated by Jessica Levinson has me considering the situation to be a kind of joke, where an individual´s judgement on the matter should not be based on name calling as Trump and his team used to describe Adam Schiff. Trump has decided to try and deem the prosecutor unreliable with his repeated name calling, but he fails to state facts behind this mean targeting nor address his own mistakes.

    • 3:32 pm - January 27, 2020

  • tiger789

    I personally think that it is dumb that they are impeaching Trump, they don’t have good points to get Trump impeached. But if Trump does get impeached I feel like it would start an epidemic for people trying to get the president impeached if they don’t like them for any reason and try to find any point to get them impeached. But I also do think that it is dumb that he handles issues by social media.

    • 10:59 pm - January 27, 2020

  • BigBird!

    It is typical that Trump would personally attack Schiff, as opposed to building his own case. While I would like to see the impeachment go through and have Trump removed from office, I find it very doubtful that they will get the two-thirds majority from the Senate (controlled by Republicans). Even though it is likely Trump will not be removed from office, this trial raises questions over the outcome of the 2020 election.

    • 8:05 am - January 28, 2020