WASHINGTON—House Democrats voted late Oct. 21 to set aside a Republican motion to censure House Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) “for conduct that misleads the American people.”
The resolution was introduced by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and was tabled on a vote of 218–185, thus effectively killing it, at least for now.
Earlier on Oct. 21, President Donald Trump appealed to House members, in a tweet, to “Censure (at least) Corrupt Adam Schiff! After what he got caught doing, any pol who does not so vote cannot be honest … are you listening Dems?”
Schiff has been Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) lead actor in the impeachment inquiry against Trump she announced Sept. 24, based on a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump threatened during a July 25 telephone call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to withhold U.S. military if the latter didn’t reopen a corruption investigation of the business dealings there of Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden’s son.
Trump released the complete transcript of the call the day after Pelosi’s announcement, saying the document demonstrated he made no such threat.
Pelosi and Schiff have continued the impeachment inquiry largely behind closed doors, while rejecting increasingly angry demands from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) for a formal House vote to authorize an official impeachment procedure.
If the House voted to authorize the procedure, as it has done in all three previous presidential impeachments, it would be centered on the House Judiciary Committee and would include Trump’s lawyers.
Republicans would also be able to call witnesses and issues subpoenas, important due process actions the current process under Schiff and the intelligence panel doesn’t permit.
As expected, Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) instructed Democrats to vote for tabling the Schiff censure motion, which would kill it. The first tally announced showed no Democrats voting with Republicans against tabling the resolution.
Even if the House ultimately impeaches Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have made clear a motion to convict Trump would fail in the upper chamber.
Among the censure resolution’s charges are that during a nationally televised hearing on Sept. 26, Schiff “purported to relay the content of the phone call to the American people” by creating “a false retelling of the conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky,” instead of reading directly from the transcript.
Schiff later conceded his version of the call transcript was a “fable,” and the censure resolution describes it as an “egregiously false and fabricated retelling had no relationship to the call itself.”
The resolution further charges that Schiff’s actions “misled the American people, bring disrepute upon the House of Representatives, and make a mockery of the impeachment process, one of this chamber’s most solemn constitutional duties.”
In addition, the resolution condemns Schiff for spreading “false accusations that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign “colluded with Russia” and claiming to have “more than circumstantial evidence” of the alleged collusion.
Also, the resolution condemns Schiff for “negotiating with Russian comedians who he believed to be Ukrainian officials to obtain materials to damage the President of the United States politically.” The Russians did so during a prank telephone call with Schiff, who was, at the time, the ranking Democrat on the intelligence panel.
The resolution calls for Schiff’s resignation as committee chairman, directs him “to forthwith present himself in the well of the House for the pronouncement of censure,” and prescribes that he will then be “censured with the public reading of this resolution by the Speaker.”
Pelosi has stood by Schiff, saying: “I’m very proud of the work that Adam Schiff is doing. I value the way he is conducting this.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at firstname.lastname@example.org