Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has been caught in yet another impeachment lie.
The California Democrat used a deceptively-edited video of President Donald Trump to claim he believes he can do “whatever he wants” under the Constitution, Breitbart reported Tuesday. Schiff is leading House Democrats as they prosecute their case against the president, in spite of a lengthy track record of telling fibs about Trump–Russia collusion and the ongoing Ukraine controversy.
Caught in another lie
Republicans have pointed to Schiff’s conduct during the House phase of the inquiry to attack the credibility of the impeachment push, focusing in particular on a fabricated version of Trump’s July 2019 phone call with Ukraine that Schiff read aloud in a congressional hearing last year, as well as his staff’s contacts with the so-called Ukraine “whistleblower” prior to the complaint being filed, something about which he lied, according to a report from The New York Times. Schiff has also been criticized for repeatedly claiming that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, even after Robert Mueller’s probe found that the opposite was true.
Notwithstanding these numerous complaints about his bias, Schiff has continued to play a prominent role for the Democrats as an impeachment manager. In a 13-hour, marathon debate with Trump’s legal team over trial rules, Schiff claimed that Trump, guided by a belief that he is above the Constitution, orchestrated a cover-up of his supposed crimes by blocking compliance with subpoenas from Congress.
“Last year President Trump said that Article II of the Constitution will allow him to do anything he wanted,” Schiff said. “And evidently believing that Article II empowered him to denigrate and defy a coequal branch of government, he also declared that he would fight all subpoenas.”
In the clip Schiff played of a speech the president gave to Turning Point USA in July, Trump did claim “the right to do whatever I want” under Article II, but the video, as Breitbart notes, cuts out the context in which Trump was speaking. The president was correctly saying that the Constitution gives him the power to fire his own officials, namely, Robert Mueller — a step he never took — and not that he is absolutely immune from scrutiny under our system of checks and balances.
Obstruction claim slammed by White House
Schiff’s claims of “obstruction” have taken on greater significance as Democrats, having basically given up on removing Trump from power, focus more intently on accusing the president of a “cover-up” of his alleged offenses. But the White House has fired back that the Democrats never specified any crime and that the impeachment is little more than a partisan campaign to remove Trump from power by any means necessary.
In a filing Monday, the White House said that the articles of impeachment, which allege “abuse of power” for withholding aid to Ukraine and “obstruction” of Congress for resisting subpoenas, are really attempts to criminalize the legitimate use of the president’s powers to set foreign policy and withhold sensitive information from disclosure, according to The Hill.
The White House called the obstruction claims a “frivolous and dangerous” attack on presidential power that runs roughshod over the constitutional separation of powers among the three branches of government.
Although Trump’s acquittal by the Senate is seen as a virtual certainty, a political fight is continuing to rage over whether witnesses will appear at the trial. The marathon rules debate ended in the early morning Wednesday with Republicans keeping the upper hand, as the Senate voted along party lines to approve a resolution from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that would delay a vote on witnesses until after opening arguments are finished, dealing a blow to Democrats who have sought a pre-trial commitment for the appearance of witnesses.
Trump team needles Schiff
Throughout the debate, Schiff appeared visibly irritated as the Trump legal team repeatedly invoked his past conduct to argue that the impeachment was a sham. Trump lawyer Pat Cipollone raised the issue of his phony version of the president’s phone call, among other complaints about Schiff’s conduct over the course of the past several months, speaking from the Senate floor:
He manufactured a false version of that call. He read it to the American people, and he didn’t tell them it was a complete fake. Do you want to know about due process? I’ll tell you about due process. Never before in the history of our country has a president been confronted with this kind of impeachment proceeding in the House.
Meanwhile, Schiff may have well have also lied about evidence from Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born associate of Rudy Giuliani whose claims of an extensive plot by the Trump administration have received significant press attention in recent days.
In a letter to Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) last week, Schiff pointed to a text message that Parnas sent to Giuliani about “trying to get us mr Z” as evidence of a conspiracy to pressure Ukraine’s president Zelensky — but Parnas’ notes show that he was referring to Mykola Zlochevsky, the founder of Burisma Holdings.
No Biden-for-Bolton trade
Having adopted rules for the trial, the Senate reconvened Wednesday for the first full day of opening arguments. Before presenting his party’s case to the Senate, Schiff rejected proposals to trade Hunter Biden’s testimony for John Bolton’s Wednesday as a “fantasy football” scenario.
“Fantasy” is indeed a key word in this impeachment drama, just not in the way Schiff seems to think.