House Democrats’ team of impeachment managers, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), have spent the last several days trying to coax moderate Senate Republicans into supporting their effort to oust President Donald Trump — or at least, vote to hear from more witnesses before making a final decision.
But Schiff may have destroyed any hope of that happening on Friday when he made a remark that some Republican senators have since called “demeaning,” “insulting,” and “unnecessary,” according to NBC News.
“Your head will be on a pike”
As Schiff neared the end of his allotted time for making his opening arguments on Friday, the House Intelligence Committee chairman referenced a CBS report from Thursday that credited an unnamed “confidant” of the president as saying that all Republican senators had been explicitly warned not to defect.
“CBS News reported last night that a Trump confidant said that GOP senators were warned, ‘Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike,'” Schiff said. “Now, I don’t know if that’s true,” he added after a moment.
The California congressman then repeated the anonymous claim again before comparing it to something an all-powerful “monarch” would do. Take a look:
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 25, 2020
“That’s not true”
According to NBC, tensions in the Senate chamber heightened after Schiff uttered those remarks; in fact, the network reported that there were audible gasps and groans. Several senators even broke the rule requiring them to remain silent by openly stating: “That’s not true.”
Later, moderate Republicans like Sen. Susan Collins (ME) came forward to say they didn’t approve of Schiff’s comments.
“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 in a statement.
She later told NBC that she was “very surprised” by Schiff’s comments. “No one’s made any such threat. None of my colleagues had heard of it… I was offended because it wasn’t true,” she said. “But let me make clear that it’s not going to have an influence one way or another, his saying it is not going to have an influence one way or the other on my decision making.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) echoed Collins’ thoughts, calling Schiff’s remark “unnecessary.” Later, Oklahoma Republican James Lankford affirmed to reporters that Republicans haven’t been told how to vote.
“That’s insulting and demeaning to everyone to say that we somehow live in fear and that the president has threatened all of us,” he said, according to NBC.
It looks like Schiff’s little stunt may have backfired. Whoops.