Moments after President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday morning that lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) hadn’t “paid the price yet” for his role in impeachment, Schiff said that the president’s post was “intended to be” a threat.
Towards the end of his appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Schiff was asked by host Chuck Todd about the pushback he’s received from GOP senators for closing out his arguments on Friday by referencing a CBS News report that the White House had warned Republicans their heads would be on “pikes” if they crossed him and voted for additional witnesses.
“What do you make of the criticism that some Republican senators who you might want to see vote for witnesses didn’t like your ‘head on a pike’ comment,” Todd wondered. “[Lisa] Murkowski, [Susan] Collins and [Joni] Ernst, all three Republican senators who might be open to witnesses thought you got too personal.”
“I don’t think it was personal to refer to the CBS story,” the House Intelligence Committee chairman replied. “What may be personal, though, and I think I have to be very candid about this, is I made the argument that it’s going to require moral courage to stand up to this president. And this is a wrathful and vindictive president. Look at the president’s tweets about me today saying that I should pay a price.”
The Meet the Press host then inquired whether or not Schiff felt that the president’s tweet represented a threat against him.
“I think it’s intended to be,” Schiff stated. “But look, it is going to be very difficult for some of these senators to stand up to this president. It really is. There’s just no question about it.”
“And I want to acknowledge that,” he continued. “And I don’t want to acknowledge it in a way that is offensive to them. But I do want to speak candidly about it. And if this weren’t an issue, there wouldn’t be an issue about calling witnesses. If we can’t even get the senators to agree to call witnesses in a trial, it shows you just how difficult that moral courage is.”
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, were confronted on the Sunday news shows over whether or not they felt the president’s tweet could be construed as a threat. On CNN’s State of the Union, for instance, anchor Jake Tapper told Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) that they’ve learned that Schiff is now getting death threats while referencing Trump’s tweet.
“Is that a price?” Tapper asked.
“No, that is not what the president is trying to do,” Lankford insisted, “and the people will hold him accountable for that, and Nancy Pelosi the same way, and both are saying that the American people will speak on this.”
Tapper, for his part, would go on to press Lankford on why he and his colleagues were acting deeply offended by Schiff quoting a CBS report but not offended by the president saying Schiff needs to “pay a price.”
“I don’t think it’s a death threat,” Lankford answered. “I don’t think he’s encouraging death threats.”
Shortly after Schiff’s interview aired, Trump took to Twitter to blast Todd while continuing to insult the House Intel chair.