House Republicans are repeating Donald Trump's conspiracy theory that the Intelligence chair should be punished for talking about the transcript the White House released.
The GOP minority in the House of Representatives is circulating a resolution to condemn Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) for supposedly fabricating the contents of a phone call between Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The list of co-sponsors currently includes several key members of the House Republican leadership, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (LA), and Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (WY).
The development comes days after Trump publicly called on both Ukraine and China to investigate his 2020 political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, whom he claims used his previous role to benefit his son, Hunter.
Soliciting election assistance from a foreign national is illegal, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Rather than holding Trump accountable for his actions, some House Republicans have chosen to focus on Schiff, who was criticized for paraphrasing and describing the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky, in which Trump pressed the leader to do him "a favor" and look into Biden.
Trump has insisted that the former vice president forced out the then-Ukrainian prosecutor general in 2016, for looking into a Ukrainian energy company on which Hunter Biden was a board member. The investigation into that company was in fact dormant when Biden and members of Congress pushed for the prosecutor's ouster, and there is no evidence that Biden was involved in any wrongdoing.
A growing number — more than 70 as of Monday afternoon — of House Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors to Rep. Andy Biggs' (R-KY) censure resolution. That resolution condemns Schiff for highlighting the ties between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia, and his decision to paraphrase a partial transcript of Trump's July 25 call for dramatic effect.
The resolution demands that Schiff "present himself in the well of the House of the pronouncement of censure" and accuses him of "conduct that misleads the American people in a way that is not befitting of an elected Member of the House of Representatives."
It makes several demonstrably false claims, including that "Trump released the transcript of a call between him and the President of Ukraine" (he released a summary of the call that did not purport to be a full transcript) and that Schiff has "spread false accusations that the Trump Campaign colluded with Russia."
Schiff in fact documented a series of real accusations of the Trump campaign's links to Russia earlier this spring during another hearing.
The resolution's central complaint claims that Schiff "manufactured a false retelling of the conversation between President Trump and [Ukrainian] President Zelensky." This echoes a false claim made by Trump, who twice demanded that Schiff resign for making up a conversation between the two leaders.
The remarks to which the resolution is referring came during a committee hearing on Sept. 26. During that hearing, spoke directly to the call between Trump and Zelensky, noting that he was paraphrasing and characterizing the partial transcript, not reading directly from it.
"It reads like a classic organized crime shakedown," Schiff said at the time.
Shorn of its rambling character and in not so many words, this is the essence of what the president communicates: "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 going to 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."
At the end of Schiff's remarks, he once again made clear that he was only paraphrasing Trump.
"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 was not such a graphic betrayal of the president's oath of office."
Days after accusing Schiff of inventing his phone conversation, Trump himself appeared to invent out of whole cloth a conversation between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues, regarding Trump's conversation with the Zelensky.
"So when she saw that [partial transcript] I heard she went crazy," Trump claimed. "She said, 'We can't impeach him for this conversation! That's a great conversation!'"
Only two House Republicans signed onto a resolution earlier this year to censure Rep. Steve King (R-IA) for embracing white nationalism. Not one House Republican signed onto a resolution this summer condemning Trump for xenophobic attacks on four Democratic Congresswomen of color.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.