Senators may be able to ask Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) tough questions about his involvement with a White House whistleblower thanks to his new role as lead prosecutor in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, according to the Washington Times.
In October, Schiff admitted that staff in his office met with the whistleblower before his complaint was filed, which raised questions about how he may have influenced the complaint. On reading the whistleblower report, some commented that it seemed like parts were written by a lawyer.
Schiff denied having any knowledge of the whistleblower both before and after he admitted his office met with him. He also seemed to have advance information about the complaint based on statements he made before it went public.
Reports of Schiff’s involvement may have contributed to a public perception of unfairness that led to a backlash against impeachment.
Schiff forced to be factual
Schiff read the charges against Trump on Thursday after they had been transmitted to the Senate, and there was no reprise of his previous “parody” where he made up a falsified version of Trump’s conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that made Trump sound like a gangster shaking him down.
Schiff did say that Trump’s actions “demonstrated he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if he is allowed to remain in office,” however.
Schiff made this opinion clear long before the first public hearing on Trump’s call, but the witnesses he was able to produce did not have firsthand information about Trump’s actions, and no wrongdoing could be proven to a single Republican’s satisfaction.
Not to mention to the satisfaction of the American voting public, the majority of whom say in polls that they don’t support Trump’s impeachment and removal from office.
Trial begins next week
Chief Justice John Roberts swore the senators in for the trial after Schiff read the charges. Proceedings are set to start on Tuesday since Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. day federal holiday.
The Senate has decided to use the same rules that governed President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, which means that they will wait until after impeachment managers present their arguments to decide whether to call witnesses.
Democrats want to call former National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify about Trump’s intentions in the phone call with Zelensky, but Trump has said executive privilege would apply.
If Democrats do succeed in calling witnesses, Republicans have threatened to call Hunter Biden or other witnesses to refute Democrat ones.