The best of Adam Schiff from the impeachment trial

As House Democrats wrapped up their 24 hours of opening statements in the impeachment trial of President Trump on Friday, one thing members of both parties acknowledged — albeit somewhat grudgingly on the Republican side — was that Rep. Adam Schiff had done about as good a job as he could in arguing the Democrats’ case.

Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was the lead impeachment manager for the Democrats, speaking on his feet for hours at a time with fluency, eloquence and command of the facts. “He’s well-spoken,” Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., told reporters on Thursday. Earlier he had complimented Schiff in person for his impassioned presentation.

Schiff “did a good job of creating a tapestry. Taking bits and pieces of evidence and emails and giving a rhetorical flourish. Making the email come alive — sometimes effectively, sometimes a little over the top,” Graham said.

House Democratic impeachment manager and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. (AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin)
Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff. (Photo: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., also praised Schiff’s presentation following Thursday’s plea to the Senate jury to remove Trump from office.

“I thought he was passionate and his case has been well articulated,” Thune said, adding that “in the end it’s all going to come down to the facts, the law and what people think is the threshold for what’s an impeachable offense.”

To be sure, many Republicans were unmoved by Schiff’s performance, including members of the president’s family.

To the president, who has taken to calling him “Shifty Schiff” on Twitter, as well as “Little Adam Schitt,” the California Democrat has long been a nemesis, and Trump’s most ardent surrogates, like Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, have been making the rounds on Fox News to press their view that Schiff has no credibility.

Yet while most Americans — even counting some members of the Senate — did not sit through all 24 hours of the Democrats’ case against the president (Trump’s lawyers get their chance starting Saturday), highlights of Schiff’s remarks flooded social media and were rebroadcast on television news programs.

Here are some of the standout moments.


On the first day Democrats were given to make their case against the president, Schiff praised the members of the Trump administration who had risked their careers by honoring subpoenas to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

“Why is it that they were willing to stick their neck out and answer lawful subpoenas when their bosses wouldn’t,” Schiff said, adding, “If they can show the courage, so can we.”


The most retweeted portion of Schiff’s remarks came at the end of Thursday’s proceedings, when he argued that Trump’s guilt was plain to see. “If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost,” Schiff said. “If the truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost.”

Schiff also argued that to fail to hold Trump accountable in the Ukraine affair would “permanently alter the balance of power between the branches of government.”

When Schiff noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin was a beneficiary of Trump’s decision to withhold U.S. military aid to Ukraine, he delivered one of his more memorable lines: “You gotta give Donald Trump credit for this; he made a religious man out of Vladimir Putin.”


Armed, as he was in the previous days, with video clips and charts, Schiff made the case Friday that there was an unmistakable pattern to Trump’s deference to Putin. Schiff deftly traced a timeline that began with Trump’s plea to the Russians to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails during the 2016 campaign, to his Helsinki press conference with Putin at which he accepted the Russian president’s denials of interference in the 2016 election, to his own debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine had meddled on behalf of the Democrats.

Schiff then invoked the memory of John McCain, recalling the late senator’s words to draw a distinction with Trump’s actions.

Taking direct aim at his Republican colleagues, Schiff asked point-blank whether any of them could be confident that Trump wouldn’t someday turn on them.


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