Adam Schiff
Credit: MSNBC/YouTube Screen Capture

Now that Robert Mueller has submitted his report, Trump and his enablers have zeroed in on a new target for their attacks. The president tweeted only one clip from his interview with Sean Hannity.

Contrary to what the fact-checkers have reported, the president wants you to think that Congressman Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is a liar. The irony meter broke when Trump suggested that, because Schiff knew he was lying, it qualifies as a crime. Unless this president is so mentally ill that he can’t tell the difference between the truth and a lie, that would make Trump the most criminal executive in this country’s history—given that he has made well over 9,000 false claims during his tenure.

The Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee followed up on Trump’s attack with a letter that was read before a hearing Thursday morning in which they called on Schiff to resign as chair.

In response, Schiff made remarks that indicate exactly why he has become the number one target for Trump and his enablers.

YouTube video

This is not the rantings of some wild-eyed radical. Before being elected to Congress, Schiff served as an assistant U.S. Attorney and has always conducted himself calmly and thoughtfully. But he put it all on the line in this statement.

Given that the focus of the attacks has been on the fact that Schiff continues to say that there was collusion between Trump and the Russians, even if Mueller wasn’t able to establish that it met the bar for criminal prosecution, he arranged his comments to suggest that perhaps Republicans on the committee are O.K. with these facts:

  • The Russians offered dirt on the Democratic candidate to help the Trump campaign.
  • When that offer was made to the president’s son, he did not call the FBI or refuse foreign help. Instead he said that he would love the help of the Russians.
  • The president’s son, campaign manager, and son-in-law took that meeting and concealed it from the public.
  • When it was discovered that the meeting took place, they lied about it—saying it was about adoptions.
  • It is reported that the president helped dictate that lie.
  • The Trump campaign manager offered information to a Russian oligarch in exchange for money or debt forgiveness.
  • That same campaign manager offered campaign polling data to someone connected to Russian intelligence.
  • The president himself called on Russia to hack his opponent’s emails and later that day, the Russians attempted to do so.
  • The president’s son-in-law sought to establish a secret back channel of communication with Russians through a Russian diplomatic facility.
  • An associate of the president made direct contact with the GRU through Guccifer 2.0 and Wikileaks.
  • A senior campaign official was instructed to reach that associate and find out what that hostile intelligence agency had to say in terms of dirt on his opponent.
  • The national security advisor designate secretly conferred with the Russian ambassador about undermining U.S. sanctions and lied about it to the FBI.

Schiff concluded that portion of his remarks by saying:

You might say that’s all O.K. You might say that’s just what you need to do to win. But I don’t think it’s O.K. I think it’s immoral. I think it’s unethical. I think it’s unpatriotic. And yes, I think it’s corrupt and evidence of collusion…The day we think that’s O.K. is the day we will look back and say, “That is the day America lost its way.”

Schiff went on to address the question of whether Trump was compromised by his ongoing negotiations on Trump Tower Moscow. But the importance of what he did during those remarks was to draw a moral—rather than criminal—line in the sand in terms of what we should expect from an elected official, especially a president.

Because Donald Trump is fundamentally an immoral person, that goes to the heart of what is so disturbing about his presidency. And it is precisely why Schiff will now be the focus of attacks from both Trump and his enablers.

I hope the chair of the Intelligence Committee has a metaphorical suit of armor in his closet because he’s going to need one before this is all over. In the meantime, he needs to know that there are people out here who have his back.

UPDATE (03/28/19 @ 3:50 pm EDT)

There’s one person who clearly has Rep. Adam Schiff’s back: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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