House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is rejecting calls from Republicans and Donald Trump that he must testify in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, calling it “absurd.”
As Trump’s impeachment moved through the House Intelligence Committee and eventually to the full House for a vote this week where Trump was impeached, Republicans have frequently taken aim at Schiff. They claimed that he had improper contact with the whistleblower who first raised complaints that Trump was pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on political rival Joe Biden, though there is no evidence that the two had any direct contact.
Schiff is now pushing back against those calls. In an interview with Firing Line, Schiff said it was “absurd” for Republicans to claim that he is a fact witness with direct knowledge of Trump’s alleged attempts to pressure Ukraine.
The Democratic leader said that even Republican Senate leadership appears to be ignoring Trump’s demand that he testify.
“There’s no basis to call me as a witness and I think even [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell and the Republicans have recognized that,” Schiff said. “The only reason to even put me on a list is because Donald Trump thinks it’s a good rhetorical attack. He also wants to call the Speaker of the House, I mean it’s absurd.”
Schiff did say there were too many Republicans willing to go along with whatever Trump tells them to do, even when the demands are absurd. He noted that the only witnesses who are relevant are those who had direct conversations with Trump about his plans to withhold military aid from Ukraine as he was seeking them to publicly announce an investigation into Joe Biden.
But while McConnell may be resisting calls to have Schiff or Nancy Pelosi called as witnesses, he is also stonewalling Democrats who have sought to have top White House officials called. Democrats want a number of top administration members with firsthand knowledge of Trump’s actions to testify, but McConnell has indicated that he plans to work directly with the White House and to fast-track a trial that would end with Trump’s acquittal.
Even if McConnell does give in to some of the Democratic requests for witnesses, the chances of Trump actually being removed from office appear remote. McConnell and other Republicans, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, have said that they will not be impartial jurors and believe that Trump should be acquitted. It would take a significant number of Republicans to buck their party in order for the Senate to reach the two-thirds threshold needed for Trump to be removed from office.