Trump Suggests Schiff Should Be Arrested for Treason Over Fabricating Parts of Call With Ukrainian President

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
September 30, 2019 Updated: October 1, 2019

President Donald Trump took to social media to criticize Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) early on Monday, Sept. 30, asking whether the Californian lawmaker should be “arrested for treason” for fabricating parts of a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a House committee hearing.

“Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people,” Trump wrote in a Twitter post. “It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?”

Schiff, who serves as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, came under fire last week for his characterization of the Trump-Zelensky call during his opening statement at a committee hearing with acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.

The Trump-Zelensky call is the subject of a whistleblower complaint that sparked controversy in Washington over the past few weeks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) launched an impeachment inquiry into the president on Sept. 24 based on media reports about the complaint. On Sept. 27, three House committees announced that one of the panels had issued a subpoena to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over documents relating to Ukraine dealings, as well as scheduled depositions of five State Department officials as part of the inquiry.

Both the transcript of the call and the whistleblower complaint were released to the public last week.

The transcript revealed that although Trump had asked Zelensky to look into former Vice President Joe Biden, he didn’t exert any pressure and neither was there any quid pro quo—something House Democrats had accused Trump of doing. The inspector general of the intelligence committee also found during a preliminary review that there was “an arguable political bias” on the part of the person who filed the complaint.

Despite having the transcript, Schiff provided his own summary of the call during the hearing that mixed in words Trump had not communicated to Zelensky.

“We’ve been very good to your country, very good, no other country has done as much as you have, but you know what? I don’t see much reciprocity here. I hear what you want, I have a favor I want from you, though. And I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good, I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand, lots of it, on this and on that,” Schiff said in his remarks leading up Maguire’s testimony.

“I’m going to put you in touch with people, not just any people, I’m going to put you in touch with Attorney General William Barr … and [Trump’s lawyer] Rudy [Giuliani].”

“And by the way don’t call me again, I’ll call you when you’ve done what I asked,” Schiff said, before adding: “This is in sum and character what the president was trying to communicate with the president of Ukraine. It would be funny if it wasn’t such a graphic portrayal of the president’s oath of office.”

The California congressman was subsequently chastised by fellow members of his committee. In his defense to the criticism, Schiff said his summary of the president’s call was meant to be “at least part in parody.”

“The fact that that’s not clear is a separate problem in and of itself. Of course, the president never said, ‘If you don’t understand me, I’m going to say it seven more times.’ My point is that’s the message that the Ukraine president was receiving, in not so many words,” Schiff said.

Trump’s comments on Monday morning came hours after he said he wanted to meet the person who filed a complaint against him.

“Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called ‘Whistleblower,’ represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Sept. 29.

“I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION, but also the person who illegally gave this information, which was largely incorrect, to the ‘Whistleblower.’ Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!”

On the same day, he also criticized Schiff saying that he wanted “Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason.”

“Schiff made up what I actually said by lying to Congress,” Trump wrote. “His lies were made in perhaps the most blatant and sinister manner ever seen in the great Chamber. He wrote down and read terrible things, then said it was from the mouth of the President of the United States. I want Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason.”

Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.