Republicans seek to censure Adam Schiff

Rebecca Shabad and Alex Moe

WASHINGTON — Republicans are planning to try to force a vote on the House floor Monday evening on a resolution to censure House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., accusing him of conveying a “false retelling” of the phone conversation between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s president that’s at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

Introduced by Arizona Republican Andy Biggs, who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus, the resolution claims Schiff “manufactured a false retelling” of the conversation instead of “quoting directly from the available transcript" released by the White House in remarks at a Sept. 26 hearing on a whistleblower complaint about the phone call.

“These actions of Chairman Schiff misled the American people, bring disrepute upon the House of Representatives, and make a mockery of the impeachment process, one of this chamber’s most solemn constitutional duties,” the three-page resolution says.

Schiff, who's leading the impeachment inquiry, presented a dramatized version of the phone exchange and said later in the hearing that his initial summary "was meant to be at least part in parody. The fact that's not clear is a separate problem in and of itself."

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Biggs, who introduced the resolution on the floor last week, told Fox News on Wednesday, “We have about 160 members on right now. Others are still coming on.”

While the resolution is privileged, expediting floor consideration, Democrats control the House and are expected to hold a vote to table the measure, killing it before it can receive a vote.

Trump tweeted his support for the resolution Monday morning, writing, “Censure (at least) Corrupt Adam Schiff! After what he got caught doing, any pol who does not so vote cannot be honest....are you listening Dems?”

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Trump also tweeted about the measure last Wednesday, repeating his allegation Schiff made up the phone conversation

“Hope all House Republicans, and honest House Democrats, will vote to CENSURE Rep. Adam Schiff tomorrow for his brazen and unlawful act of fabricating (making up) a totally phony conversation with the Ukraine President and U.S. President, me. Most have never seen such a thing!”

The White House's five-page description of the call shows that, amid a discussion with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy about how the U.S. is helping the country, Trump said, "I would like you to do us a favor, though" — which appears to involve discovering whether Ukraine might possess a server that contained some of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails. Trump then went on to ask Zelenskiy to "look into" the family of possible 2020 rival Joe Biden.

The House was originally expected to consider the resolution last week, but the sudden death of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, delayed a vote.

At his weekly press conference on Friday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters he thought it was "appropriate" for Schiff to be censured.

Monday's vote comes ahead of several additional closed-door depositions this week by the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees in the impeachment probe. The first deposition will take place Tuesday with Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomate in Ukraine.

Taylor is a key witness to Trump’s attempts to press Ukraine's president for an investigation of the Bidens. In a packet of text messages released by House Democrats earlier this month, Taylor remarked that it would be “crazy” to link Ukraine military assistance to help with Trump’s political campaign, something hinted at elsewhere in the messages.