Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the House Intelligence Committee chairman who presided over the impeachment hearings, recently showed how far he is willing to go in the political fight against President Donald Trump and the Republicans by subpoenaing the phone records of Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, and disclosing them.
According to The Daily Signal’s Paul J. Larkin Jr., in doing so, Schiff elevated partisan warfare to a new level that could have far-ranging future consequences.
Schiff’s game-changing tactics
Republicans were all over Schiff for his subpoenaing and disclosing of Giuliani’s phone records, and for good reason. Just imagine if the shoe was on the other foot and that it was Trump or a Republican who used his position to obtain and release Schiff’s phone records. As Larkin correctly points out, there would be a third article of impeachment as a result.
But that is what Schiff did, and so far he is getting away with it.
Nonetheless, according to Larkin, there are three aspects to this situation that should not go unnoticed, and the first is that “it signals a new escalation in the partisan warfare that grips Congress.”
As Larkin explains, if Schiff’s blurring of the lines of legality to get what he needs to oust Trump is allowed, then “nothing is out of bounds.” If allowed, this will set a precedent, and while such actions may work in the Democrats’ favor at the present, they ought to remember that they will not be in power forever and that what comes around goes around.
A telling silence
The second aspect of this situation that Larkin says ought to be considered is the fact that the Democrats and the mainstream media have kept silent about what Schiff did.
“Silence among the former is less surprising. The Democratic Party has a far stronger sense of solidarity than Republicans do,” Larkin wrote. “But the media’s silence is baffling.”
It is baffling, explained Larkin, because of the way that the media in the past has gone after Republicans for much less. But, says Larkin, “it seems that most major media outlets are untroubled by a ‘whatever it takes’ approach to impeaching Trump — or by allowing the public to conclude that they are hypocrites.”
Schiff not in the clear
The last point that Larkin makes is that just because action has yet to be taken against Schiff, legal or otherwise, does not mean that no action will ever be taken. According to Larkin, this situation could lead to a court case involving the Speech or Debate Clause of Articles 1 of the Constitution, that, “for any Speech or Debate in either House, [Senators and Representatives] shall not be questioned in any other Place.”
Larkin argues that, with this clause, “the framers of the Constitution did not intend to grant members of Congress immunity for acting like junior G-men and telling the world what they found.” Here, Larkin is likely on firm ground.
Essentially, says Larkin, Schiff and others will have to make a case that he is above the law, and that will certainly sound funny coming from an individual and a political party that is always telling the public that President Trump and the Republicans are “not above the law.”