Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, kicked off public impeachment hearings Wednesday with a lengthy opening statement about President Donald Trump and his administration’s conduct toward Ukraine.
Notably, Schiff seems to be laying the groundwork of impeachment not just for Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, but also for possible obstruction charges.
“Although we have learned a great deal about these events in the last several weeks, there are still missing pieces,” Rep. Schiff said. “The President has instructed the State Department and other agencies to ignore Congressional subpoenas for documents. He has instructed witnesses to defy subpoenas and refuse to appear. And he has suggested that those who do expose wrongdoing should be treated like traitors and spies.”
“These actions will force Congress to consider, as it did with President Nixon, whether Trump’s obstruction of the constitutional duties of Congress constitute additional grounds for impeachment,” he continued.
“If the President can simply refuse all oversight, particularly in the context of an impeachment proceeding, the balance of power between our two branches of government will be irrevocably altered. That is not what the Founders intended.”
“If this is not impeachable conduct, what is?” he also said. “Does the oath of office itself — requiring that our laws be faithfully executed, that our president defend a constitution that balances the powers of its branches, setting ambition against ambition so that we become no monarchy — still have meaning?”
Rep. Schiff has been one of the loudest voices among Democrats calling for Trump’s impeachment. (RELATED: Pranksters Fooled Adam Schiff With Offer Of Donald Trump Kompromat [VIDEO])
He earned the wrath of Trump after he read a misleading “transcript” of Trump’s call with Zelensky in September, which Schiff called a “parody.”
Trump responded by asking if he should be arrested for treason.
Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2019
The public impeachment hearings that began Wednesday will feature testimony by William Taylor, top U.S. diplomat, as well as Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent.