Republicans want the House to censure Democrat Adam Schiff over his handling of the Trump impeachment hearings, and NBC News reports that they'll push for a vote Monday evening. The move is widely expected to become a symbolic one, however, because Democrats will be able to easily block the measure. Specifically, Republicans say in a resolution that Schiff gave the public a "false retelling" of President Trump's phone call with Ukraine's leader during a public hearing. Details and related coverage:
- What Schiff said: In a Sept. 26 hearing on a whistleblower complaint over the phone call, Schiff said a transcript of the call "reads like a classic organized crime shakedown. Shorn of its rambling character and in not so many words, this is the essence of what the President communicates." He then paraphrases the president: "We’ve been very good to your country, very good. No other country has done as much as we 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 gonna 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."
- His qualifier: "This is in some character what the president was trying to communicate with the president of Ukraine," added Schiff. "It would be funny if it wasn't such a graphic betrayal of the president's oath of office."
- Video: Watch video of the Schiff's opening statement here. The controversial part begins about the 3:55 mark.
- Backlash: Trump and GOP critics immediately pounced on Schiff's paraphrasing of the call and accused him of exaggerating what Trump said. Schiff later said his summary "was meant to be at least part in parody. The fact that's not clear is a separate problem in and of itself." GOP Rep. Andy Biggs introduced the resolution to censure Schiff on Oct. 15. (Here is what Trump actually said on the call.)
- Now what: Republicans are expected to try to force a vote on censure Monday, but a Politico Playbook item predicts the measure won't even get an up-or-down vote. Democrats will move to table it, and the vote will be on whether to table, not whether to censure. "This is almost certainly going to be tabled on party lines, and then, that’s it. Republicans can, however, bring this up again, if they want."
- The symbolic win: In a Washington Post analysis, Amber Phillips writes that Schiff made an "unforced political error" with his parody. Why not just quote what Trump actually said? "Perhaps most useful to Trump is that this censure resolution has become a way for his defenders to create a villain in this impeachment inquiry out of someone who otherwise is not necessarily a household name."
- Pushing the message: On Fox News Monday, Republican Biggs said the point is to "make sure that the American people understand what Adam Schiff is doing is not the normal way that you conduct an impeachment inquiry," per Fox. "He's kind of poisoned the well there." Trump, meanwhile, continued his criticism as well. "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?" he tweeted.
- Pelosi fact sheet: Also Monday, Nancy Pelosi released a fact sheet rehashing key points of the impeachment. Read it here, via the Hill. Among other things, she accuses Trump of a "pressure campaign" on Ukraine and of a related "cover up."
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