President Trump called for the resignation of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) on Friday after the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee paraphrased a White House memo describing a phone call at the center of House Democrats’ formal impeachment inquiry into the president.
Schiff led a contentious three-hour committee hearing Thursday morning in which lawmakers questioned Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, about a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump withheld aid to Ukraine while pressuring that country’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump’s leading Democratic rivals in the 2020 election.
At the hearing, Schiff’s opening statement discussed constitutional obligations and comparisons between Trump and mafia bosses. In what he later described as “at least in part, parody,” he also paraphrased the memo released by the White House — which Trump tweeted Friday was “a version of my conversation with the President of Ukraine that doesn’t exist.”
“This is the essence of what the president communicates,” Schiff said at the hearing: “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,” Schiff continued. “I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it — on this and on that.”
“I’m gonna put you in touch with people and not just any people. I’m gonna put you in touch with the attorney general of the United States, my attorney general, Bill Barr. He’s got the whole weight of the American law enforcement behind him and I’m gonna put you in touch with Rudy. You’re gonna love him, trust me,” he said, mentioning the president’s personal lawyer. “You know what I’m asking, so I’m only going to say this a few more times in a few more ways. And by the way, don’t call me again; I’ll call you when you’ve done what I asked.”
“This is in sum and character what the president was trying to communicate with the president of Ukraine,” Schiff said. “It would be funny if it wasn’t such a graphic betrayal of the president’s oath of office.”
Trump, in response Friday, said Schiff gave a fraudulent reading of the memo to Congress “with millions of people watching.”
“He was supposedly reading the exact transcribed version of the call, but he completely changed the words to make it … sound horrible, and me to sound guilty,” Trump tweeted.
“HE WAS DESPERATE AND HE GOT CAUGHT,” the president continued. “Adam Schiff therefore lied to Congress and attempted to defraud the American Public. He has been doing this for two years. I am calling for him to immediately resign from Congress based on this fraud!”
While the president appeared to delete his first tweets calling for the resignation, he followed up with two new tweets carrying the same message but with a correction of an initial typographical error. The comments followed other furious tweets targeting the media.
Although the president claims the document Schiff was referencing was an “exact transcribed version of the call,” the five pages released by the White House are not a word-for-word transcript of the conversation.
Rep. Adam Schiff totally made up my conversation with Ukraine President and read it to Congress and Millions. He must resign and be investigated. He has been doing this for two years. He is a sick man!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2019
According to the memo, Trump asked Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden and to look into CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm that did work for the Democrats in the 2016 election. Trump asked Zelensky at least five separate times on the call to work with Atty. Gen. William P. Barr on such investigations.
Responding to Trump on Twitter, Schiff said Friday that the president’s claims and actions put the country at risk.
“You engaged in a shakedown to get election dirt from a foreign country. And then you tried to cover it up,” Schiff tweeted. “But you’re right about one thing — your words need no mockery. Your own words and deeds mock themselves. But most importantly here, they endanger our country.”
Schiff, who was the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee when it first began looking into allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election, is seen as the face of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into the president.