Trump Seizes on Schiff as Impeachment Probe Gathers Steam

House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks before Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Taking aim at the congressman who one day earlier forcefully questioned the White House’s handling of the whistleblower complaint, President Donald Trump fired off a volley of tweets Friday that call for the resignation of Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.

The tweets take aim at Schiff’s recital Thursday of what he called a parody of the July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. No verbatim transcript of the conversation is publicly available, but the whistleblower wrote in an Aug. 12 letter to Schiff that multiple witnesses have shared concerns that Trump abused the power of his office in the call by trying to solicit Ukraine’s interference in the 2020 election.

Following the start of an impeachment inquiry in Congress, Trump on Wednesday released notes from the White House about the call. He complained on Twitter Friday that Schiff was not faithful to that interpretation.

“He was supposedly reading the exact transcribed version of the call, but he completely changed the words to make it sound horrible, and me sound guilty,” Trump tweeted. “HE WAS DESPRATE AND HE GOT CAUGHT. Adam Schiff therefore lied to Congress and attempted to defraud the American Public. He has been doing this for two years. I am calling for him to immediately resign from Congress based on this fraud!”

Schiff described the call summary before the Intelligence Committee took testimony Thursday from Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, a Trump appointee who is under fire for keeping the whistleblower’s complaint sealed nearly a month. Federal law requires such complaints are made public within a week.

The White House’s own summary of the Zelensky call acknowledges that Trump made a request in it for Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, for their connection to a Ukrainian gas company.

A Ukrainian official cleared the Bidens earlier this year, saying there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

After noting Thursday that the call read like a “classic mob shakedown,” Schiff admitted that he exaggerated Trump’s side of the conversation for dramatic effect.

“My summary of the president’s call was meant to be at least, part, in parody,” Schiff said during the hearing. “The fact that that’s not clear is a separate problem in and of itself. Of course, the president never said, ‘If you don’t understand me, I’m going to say it seven more times.’ My point is, that’s the message that the Ukraine president was receiving in not so many words.”

Trump accused Schiff in his tweets Friday of lying to the American people for the past two years.

“Rep. Adam Schiff totally made up my conversation with Ukraine President and read it to Congress and Millions,” he posted. “He must resign and be investigated. He has been doing this for two years. He is a sick man!”

Responding to Trump’s tweets with one of his own Friday, Schiff said the president had “engaged in a shakedown to get election dirt from a foreign country.” Adding a photo of Trump’s tweets calling for his resignation, Schiff said then the president tried to cover up the interaction. 

“But you’re right about one thing — your words need no mockery,” Schiff tweeted. “Your own words and deeds mock themselves. But most importantly here, they endanger our country.”

Though the House passed a nonbinding resolution Wednesday that called for Trump to cease defaming the whistleblower openly, Trump on Friday repeated his claim that the individual who made the complaint sounds like “a leaker or a spy.”

“In addition, all second hand information that proved to be so inaccurate that there may not have even been somebody else, a leaker or spy, feeding it to him or her? A partisan operative?” the president tweeted.

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