Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on Sunday chastised Republican senators who claimed to be bothered by President Donald Trump’s Ukrainian actions as they voted against impeachment witnesses, saying it doesn’t do justice to the president’s behavior to merely call it “inappropriate.”
Appearing on CBS News’ Face the Nation, the House Intelligence Committee chairman was asked what the impeachment trial had accomplished as the Senate is poised to acquit Trump after voting against hearing from witnesses about his actions.
“What's remarkable is you now have Republican senators coming out and saying, yes, the House proved its case,” Schiff told host Margaret Brennan. “The House proved the corrupt scheme that they charged in the articles of impeachment. The president did withhold hundreds of millions of dollars from an ally to try to coerce that ally into helping him cheat in the next election. That's pretty remarkable when you now have senators on both sides of the aisle admitting the House made its case.”
Schiff went on to say that the Senate now needs to move to the next step and find the president guilty and remove him from office since he’s “threatening to still cheat in the next election by soliciting foreign interference,” prompting Brennan to note the votes aren’t there for that to happen.
“As you said, Senators Rubio, Alexander, Portman have all said in some way or another they found the actions of the president inappropriate, but not enough to oust him,” she added. “So the bottom line here seems to be that the president will get away with what they're calling inappropriate. What are Democrats going to do? What do you do next?”
“Well, first of all, to call solicitation, coercion, blackmail of a foreign power, an ally at war, by withholding military aid to get help in cheating in the next election merely inappropriate, doesn't begin to do justice to the gravity of this president's misconduct,” Schiff answered. “Misconduct that I think undermined our national security as well as that of our ally and threatens the integrity—the integrity of our elections.”
The California Democrat further noted that he’s “not letting the senators off the hook” for not acting against Trump even though they’ve acknowledged his behavior was wrong, saying he’s still going to make the case Trump needs to be removed.
“It will be up to the senators to make that final judgment and the senators will be held accountable for it,” he stated.
To Schiff’s point, GOP senators appeared on the Sunday news shows and attempted to have it both ways by arguing that Trump behaved inappropriately with his Ukraine pressure scheme but that it isn’t an impeachable offense.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who voted against calling additional witnesses last week despite saying Trump made an “error in judgment,” told Meet the Press’ Chuck Todd that Trump’ Shouldn’t have done it” and “it was wrong” but that Trump’s fate should be left to the ballot box and “the people.” The conservative senator also confirmed that he’d vote to acquit the president.
On CNN’s State of the Union, meanwhile, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said that the president acted inappropriately but that she would inevitably vote to clear Trump of all charges.
“He's done it now,” she told anchor Jake Tapper. “The president has a lot of latitude to do what he wants to do. Again, not what I have done, but certainly, again, going after corruption, Jake...Maybe not the perfect call.”
After Tapper wondered aloud what she meant by saying it was something she wouldn't have done, Ernst added: “He did it—he did it maybe in the wrong manner… But I think he could have done it through different channels. Now, this is the argument, is that he should have probably gone to the DOJ. He should have worked through those entities, but he chose to go a different route.”
Senate Republicans weren’t the only ones trying to thread the needle on Sunday regarding the president’s Ukrainian actions. Trump defense team member Alan Dershowitz, who argued last week that Trump could engage in a quid pro quo with Ukraine since his re-election is in the “public interest” and he has “mixed motives,” conceded on Fox News Sunday that the pressure campaign could be “troubling.”
“On Election Day as a citizen I will allow that to enter into my decision,” he told host Chris Wallace when asked if he was troubled by the allegations. “Of course any citizen would find that troubling if it were proved, troubling is not the criteria for impeachment.”
“If a president linked aid to an ally to personal benefit that was not in the public interest, that would be wrong, that would be a reason for him not to vote for him,” Dershowitz added.