U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is revisiting the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump by speculating that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic would have played out differently if senators had voted to remove him from office.
Schiff claimed in an interview on Monday that if Trump had been replaced, the nation might not be experiencing a daily death toll that is often the “equivalent of the number of people we lost on 9/11.”
The congressman invoked the deadliest terror attack to take place on U.S. soil as part of his appearance on MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.”
“Not going to change”
When the host brought up the impeachment effort in discussing executive-branch personnel changes, he mentioned warnings Schiff gave at the time as he was leading the charge on Capitol Hill.
“We can’t act even slightly surprised by this because you told us this was going to happen in your argument in the Senate impeachment trial,” O’Donnell said.
Schiff recalled that he was among those in the House who “told the senators that [Trump] was not going to change, and there was no way to constrain him — that he is who he is, and he would continue to operate the way he had.”
While acknowledging that such a result is “exactly what we’ve seen since,” he noted that those making the case underestimated the possible impact of Trump serving out the rest of his term.
“Little did we know”
“Now, the one thing we dramatically understated is when we asked the question: If you found him guilty, do you really need to remove him given there is another election only nine months away, how much damage could he really do?” Schiff continued. “We said a lot, but little did we know just how great the casualties would be.”
Going on to cite the grim statistic that the nation sometimes loses “the equivalent of the number of people we lost on 9/11” in a single day as a result of the coronavirus, he said that “there is no way we could have foreseen just how tragic [Trump’s] malfeasance would be in the remaining months of his administration.”
In making his broader point, Schiff seemed to be placing the blame on Trump — and to a lesser extent, each Republican senator who voted to acquit — for exacerbating a death toll that approached 70,000 Americans as of Tuesday.
“I handled it very well”
Trump cited the congressional investigation into abuse of power and obstruction of justice charges as a factor that divided his attention in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think I handled it very well, but I guess it probably did,” he said of the impeachment that ended with his acquittal in the Senate in early February. “I mean, I got impeached. I think, you know, I certainly devoted a little time to thinking about it, right.”
Had Schiff taken a break from beating the impeachment drum as head of the House intelligence committee, perhaps efforts to ready the nation for an impending health crisis might have been at the front of everyone’s mind in the nation’s capital.