Impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) concluded the Democrats’ opening argument on Friday evening in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, which has been characterized primarily by a glaring lack of evidence to support the underlying allegations and the array of insults aimed at the president and Republican senators alike.
Schiff again offended moderate Republicans during his final remarks by referring to a CBS News story that accused Trump of threatening Republicans who voted against him in the trial.
“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 as he urged the assembled lawmakers to vote with “moral courage” and not out of political interest.
Several Republicans were seen shaking their heads in disagreement and were heard quietly stating, “That’s not true” after Schiff made the assertion, according to Politico.
Schiff remarks “unnecessary”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), one of the moderates who many thought might be persuaded to support the calling of witnesses later in the trial, called Schiff’s comments “unnecessary,” according to Fox News.
“Not only have I never heard the ‘head on the pike’ line but also I know of no Republican senator who has been threatened in any way by anyone in the administration,” Collins said.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) countered Schiff’s claim by saying, “No Republican senator has been told that. What he has proven to all of us is, he is capable of falsehoods and will tell it to the country. And would tell it to us when we are sitting in the Senate chamber. When every one of us knows it is not true.”
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said she was listening intently to Schiff, “until he got to the part where he just completely made a bunch of bullcrap up.”
Earlier in Friday’s proceedings, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) also called Trump a “dictator” as justification for removing him from office, although Nadler didn’t give any specifics about why he believesTrump fits that description.
Three days of inflammatory rhetoric did not obscure the fact that Democrats still have an extraordinarily weak case for the conviction and removal of a sitting president. If their evidentiary record included firsthand testimony and documentary facts that backed up their accusations, they would not have to harken back to a Russia collusion narrative that has come up empty for three years or suggest that Republicans are committing treason by opposing witness testimony that could have been taken during the House phase of the impeachment process.
It is doubtful that the Democrat impeachment managers convinced anyone of anything they didn’t already believe about Trump with their exaggerations, half-truths and outright lies.
Now it is the Trump legal team’s turn to tell the Senate and the American people exactly why this entire impeachment has been, as Trump has said many times, a “hoax.” Chances are good that they will be able to do it without fabricating evidence or accusing their colleagues of treasonous intent, as tempting — and arguably accurate — as the latter would certainly be.