House is ready to blast Rep.  Adam Schiff on the Trump-Russia investigation

WASHINGTON — Democratic Representative Adam Schiff challenged Wednesday as the Republican-led House prepared to condemn him for comments he made years ago during an investigation into President Donald Trump's ties to Russia. He said he would wear official disapproval as a “badge of honor” and accused his GOP colleagues of carrying out the former president's orders.

“I'm not going to give up,” said Schiff, who is running for Senate in his home state of California, during a debate about the measure. “Not an inch.”

More than 20 Republicans voted with Democrats last week to block the condemnation resolution, but they changed their vote this week after the measure's sponsor, Florida Representative Anna Paulina Luna, removed provisions that could fine Schiff $16 million if the House Ethics Committee determined she lied. Several Republicans who opposed the resolution last week said they opposed fines members of Congress in that way.

The revised resolution said Schiff held a position of power during Trump's presidency and “abused this belief by arguing that there was evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.” Schiff was one of the former president's most outspoken critics since the Republican-led Department of Justice and the House launched investigations into Trump's ties to Russia in 2017.

“By repeatedly telling these lies, Representative Schiff willfully deceived the Committee, Congress, and the American people,” the resolution stated.

A former Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and lead attorney in Trump's first impeachment trial, Schiff has long been a top political target for Republicans. Immediately after taking back his majority this year, Republicans blocked him from sitting on the intelligence panel.

Schiff will be the 25th member of the House of Representatives to be criticized and only the third in 20 years. Republican Rep. Arizona's Paul Gosar came under fire in 2021 for tweeting an animated video depicting him attacking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., with a sword; Former Democratic Representative Charlie Rangel of New York came under fire in 2010 for serious financial and campaign abuses.

The denunciations themselves have had no practical effect, apart from providing historic footnotes marking the career of an MP. But the GOP resolution would have launched an ethics probe into Schiff's behavior.

While Schiff did not start a 2017 congressional investigation into Trump's ties with Russia — then House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican who later became one of Trump's most staunch defenders, did — Republicans argued in favor of his criticism Wednesday blaming him for what they say is the fallout from that investigation, and a separate investigation started that same year by Trump's own Department of Justice.

Luna said Schiff's comments that there was evidence against Trump “destroyed American families across the country” and that he was “permanently destroying family relationships.” Some blame him for the more than $30 million spent by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Justice Department investigation.

Schiff said the denunciation resolution “would accuse me of being omnipotent, the leader of some vast Deep State conspiracy, and of course, that doesn't make any sense.”

Democrats have aggressively defended their counterparts throughout the debate. Maryland representative Jamie Raskin, who led Trump's second impeachment, called the effort a “shameful tour of revenge on Donald Trump's behalf.”

Mueller, who led the Justice Department investigation for two years, ruled that Russia intervened on behalf of the campaign and that the Trump campaign welcomed the assistance. But Mueller's team did not find that the campaign conspired to sway the election, and the Justice Department did not recommend any criminal charges.

The House intelligence committee's investigation, launched by Nunes when the Republican Party was in the majority, also found that Russia interfered in the election but found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy. Schiff was the top Democrat on the panel at the time.

The final vote is expected later Wednesday. If the House votes against him, Schiff will stand before the assembly as the text of the resolution is read.

Schiff said last week that the critical resolution was “red meat” being thrown by Speaker Kevin McCarthy at his conference amid bickering over government spending. Republicans are trying to demonstrate their loyalty to Trump, Schiff said.

He said he warned the country during the impeachment proceedings three years ago that Trump “is going to get worse. And of course he does worse in the form of violent attacks on the Capitol.”

After Democrats won a House majority in 2018, the House impeached Trump for abuse of power after he threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine and urged the country's president to investigate candidate Joe Biden. Schiff was the House prosecutor who brought the case for conviction to the Senate, arguing repeatedly that it was “the right thing”. The Republican-led Chamber eventually released him.

Trump was impeached a second time a year later, after he left office, for his role in the January 6, 2021 uprising in the Capitol. The Senate again acquitted Trump.

In a resolution condemning Schiff, Luna also cited a report released in May from special counsel John Durham which found that the FBI rushed into investigating the Trump campaign and relied too heavily on raw, unconfirmed intelligence.

Durham said investigators repeatedly relied on “confirmation bias,” ignoring or rationalizing evidence that undermined their premise about the Trump-Russia conspiracy as they pushed the investigation forward. But he did not suggest that political bias or partisanship was a guiding factor in the FBI's actions.

Trump has claimed that the Durham report will expose the “crimes of the century” and expose a “profound state conspiracy” by top administration officials to derail his candidacy and then his presidency. But the investigation resulted in only one conviction – the guilty plea of ​​a little-known FBI employee – and only two other cases were filed, both of which ended in acquittals.

Democrats argue that the House condemnation resolution is an attempt to deflect attention from Trump's recent indictments on federal allegations of hoarding classified documents – some of which deal with sensitive national security issues – and trying to hide them. House Republicans, largely loyal to Trump, said the indictments were more evidence that the administration was conspiring against the former president.

“This is clearly a handful of Republican lawmakers trying to do Donald Trump's bidding and trying to distract from his very serious legal problems,” said Democratic Representative Jason Crow of Colorado.