Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Schiff Survives: House Dem Ducks Censure Over ‘Parody’ Ukraine Speech

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Democrat and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff (D-CA), narrowly survived an effort to censure him over a “parody” speech he gave at the opening of the House investigation into whether President Donald Trump sought information on former Vice President Joe Biden from Ukrainian officials.

The vote, which, unsurprisingly, went along party lines, tabled the censure resolution, saving Schiff from having to face questions over why he gave a speech implying a quid-pro-quo agreement between Trump and Ukrainian leaders when official transcripts of the President’s discussions with Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, show no such arrangement.

“The vote was 218 to 185 to table the resolution,” Fox News reports, with all Republicans voting against tabling the resolution and all Democrats voting for tabling the resolution. Independent Michigan Rep. Justin Amash voted with Democrats.

Senior Republicans told Fox News that the vote to table censuring Adam Schiff should not be the end of the matter, and that they hope Democrats will allow a “straight up-or-down” vote on censure or refer the issue to the House Ethics Committee.

Neither outcome is likely, however.

Schiff earned the censure resolution, offered by Republican Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), for manufacturing what the GOP called a “false retelling” of a phone call between President Trump and Zelensky in a series of remarks made at a hearing on September 26, when the House was considering the testimony of a whistleblower who claimed to have knowledge of a quid-pro-quo agreement between the two leaders over information about Joe Biden.

Schiff “re-enacted” the phone call, never clearly indicating that he was not reading from a transcript or that his speech was not referencing elements of the whistleblower’s testimony directly.

After Schiff finished his performance, the White House released the full transcript of the call, leaving Schiff to admit his version was a “parody” on CBS’s Face the Nation the following Sunday. He told hosts there that he “should have been more clear” that he was manufacturing his version of the conversation from whole cloth and that he did not have firsthand knowledge of what the whistleblower planned to tell the House.

His staff also later walked back that claim after reports indicated that the whistleblower had communicated with House Democrats ahead of his or her testimony. Schiff’s staff released a statement saying that Schiff, instead,  “does not know the identity of the whistleblower, and has not met with or spoken with the whistleblower or their counsel.”

Democrats, inclding Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), gloated about the censure’s failure on social media and in statements after the vote.

Pelosi released a statement calling Schiff a “patriot” and praising his commitment to keeping America safe from foreign influence.

“Our country is extremely well-served by his serious, smart and strategic leadership to protect our elections, national security and democracy – which sadly stands in stark contrast to Republicans in the Congress who cover up the truth, look the other way when the President invites foreign governments to interfere in our elections and vote against legislation to secure the ballot from foreign attacks,” Pelosi said.

Schiff said, on Twitter, that history will judge his Republican opponents harshly.

The House investigation into the Ukraine matter continues apace, but Pelosi has yet to introduce a resolution calling for an actual impeachment inquiry and setting a date for any possible impeachment hearings.

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