Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) told the Senate that it would be wrong for a president to ask the Department of Justice to investigate a political rival. But Schiff defended then-President Barack Obama doing just that to then-candidate Donald Trump.
The remark came during the first of two days of questions and answers in President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.
Schiff was responding to a query osed by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), asking a hypothetical question about whether Obama would have had the authority to investigate suspected corruption by a son of Mitt Romney, Obama’s rival in his 2012 re-election campaign.
The lead House manager dismissed the hypothetical, then went on to argue that a president should not ask the DOJ to investigate a rival.
Counterintelligence investigations differ from criminal investigations in their means, scope and ultimate disposition. Their goal is not successful prosecutions, but to identify and mitigate threats to national security. If a foreign power possessed compromising information on a U.S. government official in a position of influence, that is a counterintelligence risk. If a foreign power possessed leverage, or the perception of it, over the president, that is a counterintelligence nightmare.
Later on, White House attorney Jay Sekulow noted that Trump had been a victim of exactly the kind of investigation that the Obama administration had initiated under Operation Crossfire Hurricane.
Schiff is on record backing that investigation.
8:19 Bernie Sanders asks a question to the House managers about Trump’s documented “lies” by the mainstream media and asks why anyone should believe him that there was no quid pro quo.
Schiff is not sure where to begin with the question if to say that if every defendant can be exonerated by denying the crime, there would be no trial. He says “it doesn’t work that way.” Schiff when Trump blurted out “no quid pro quo,” that’s equivalent to saying “it wasn’t me” after being caught. Schiff wonders why so many people who leave the administration walk away with such a conviction that he is undermining the country’s security.
8:13 PM: Cassidy and Risch ask both parties about Nadler’s previous remarks about narrow and partisan impeachments that will produce division and bitterness. They ask if the current proceedings typify that given how much some House Democrats hate Trump and wanted him impeached from day one.
Philbin says the simple answer is yes and this is what Nadler warned against 20 years ago. He says there has been a faction on the left that has been trying to find an excuse to impeach Trump even before he was inaugurated and this is something “dangerous” that the framers did not want. Philbin warns “what goes around comes around” and every president will be impeached if this is allowed.
Jeffires claims this is not partisan and says impeachment and removal are necessary because Trump is interfering with fair and free elections.
8:07 PM: Schumer asks House mangers to respond to the answer that was just given.
Schiff says Trump’s team is threatening to make this process endless if Bolton testifies. He says he trusts Roberts to make decisions about witnesses and documents. Schiff claims it won’t take months of litigation. He says he has never been a fan of Bolton’s but likes him a little more than he did before.
8:05 PM: Johnson asks Trump’s team if House managers are certain it would take months to litigate a subpoena for Bolton why would it not take months to litigate subpoenas the Senate could issue.
Sekulow says that is precisely the point. He says if the Senate goes this road, there will be lengthy proceedings with a lot more witnesses. He asks if that is going to be the new norm for impeachment. Sekulow says Democrats are acting like this is a traffic-court proceeding.
8:00 PM: Menendez of all people is asking a question about corruption. He asks the House managers why Trump became concerned about corruption in Ukraine in 2019.
Crow repeats House Democrats’ talking points about how Trump was afraid of Biden. He says Trump withheld foreign aid that he was happy to give in the two prior years.
7:56 PM: Sullivan and Lankford as Trump’s team about the conflicting testimony re: how long the Senate could be tied up obtaining evidence. They ask how long do they think the trial would take had the Senate adopted all of the amendments.
Sekulow says “a long time.” He says “months” because Schiff could also assert some “speech and debate privileges” as well. He says this would be the first of many weeks. Sekulow says Democrats put this forward in an aggressive way and now they say witnesses after saying more than 30 times that they have proved
7:53 PM: Merkley and other Democrats ask the White House’s team to clarify their answers about Bolton’s manuscript. They want to know when they first learned of it and whether political officials made the decision to try to block Bolton from publishing.
Philbin says the lawyers first learned about the report on Sunday afternoon. He says the White House counsel’s office is not involved in classification reviews and says the career officials at the NSC conduct the reviews.
7:50 PM: Trump’s team asked about the House managers’ assertion that Hunter Biden’s corruption claims have been debunked.
Herschmann says the House managers haven’t cited any evidence because none exists. He says how can you tell the American people it doesn’t merit inquiry when the VP’s son is making more in a month than Senators make in a year for purportedly overseeing the legal department of a corrupt Ukrainian company.
7:41 PM: Next up is Durbin, who asks the House managers to respond to the answer that was just given.
Garcia says Trump only sought to investigate the Bidens only after he entered the race and had no interest when Biden wasn’t running against him.
7:35 PM: Crapo and other Senators ask Trump’s team if the evidence shows that it is in the national interest to investigate Hunter Biden’s dealings.
Philbin says the evidence would show that and goes over Hunter’s lack of corruption and Burisma’s corruption. He notes Hunter’s business partner severed his relationship with him over Hunter’s Burisma appointment. He says all of the testimony indicated that there was an appearance of a conflict of interest.
7:31 PM: Udall and three other Democrats ask House managers about Trump’s children benefiting from foreign investments. They ask House managers if Kushner’s dealings with foreign governments should also come under investigation given the White House’s standards for the Bidens.
Demings says Senators need to stay focused and not on smoke and mirrors. She says to focus on Trump’s attempts to “shake down” the Ukrainians to help him “cheat.” She says this doesn’t have anything to do with Trump’s children or the Bidens’ children.
7:26 PM: Senate reconvenes and McSally sends in a question with other GOP Senators. House managers asked if the articles include anything related to bribery or extortion.
Philbin says the articles do not charge Trump with bribery, extortion, or any other crime. He says it is impermissible to try to convict Trump for crimes that were not in the articles. He says what Schiff is attempting would result in a mistrial and Schiff knows that as a former prosecutor.
6:32 PM: Senate in recess for dinner for about 45 minutes.
6:26 PM: House Managers asked if a reasonable judge would constitute that the Senate conducted a fair trial if witnesses with first-hand knowledge did not testify.
Schiff says it would not be fair and then again attacks Dershowitz. He says you can say whatever you want about Dershowitz but you can’t say that he is unprepared. He doesn’t buy the argument that Dershowitz just read and studied more during the last 21 years.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery.