Rep. Adam Schiff says it's 'unthinkable' to imagine what might happen if the US is 'forced to suffer another 4 years under Donald Trump'
Schiff said he couldn't imagine what would happen if the US had to "suffer" another Trump presidency.
He told Insider that the prospect of Trump running again in 2024 and winning was "unthinkable."
He said the most "astonishing" part of Trump's rise was how many Republicans conceded to him.
The lawmaker who led President Donald Trump's first impeachment proceedings said he couldn't imagine what would happen in the US if Trump ran for election in 2024 and won.
"I cannot imagine what this country would look like if it were forced to suffer another four years under Donald Trump," Rep. Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, told Insider in an interview. "He's already done irrevocable damage to the country."
Schiff added: "We will recover from this presidency, but it will take years. Should the country have to go through that again, I just can't imagine what our democracy will look like. It's unthinkable. Every effort must be made to make sure that it never comes to pass."
Trump, for his part, has repeatedly teased a 2024 presidential run but has stopped short of making an official announcement. Fiona Hill, a nonpartisan career official who previously served as the top Russia expert on Trump's National Security Council, echoed Schiff's assessment last week, telling Politico in an interview that if Trump runs again in 2024 and wins, "democracy's done."
Schiff's book, "Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could," was released on Tuesday. In his memoir, the California Democrat detailed his early life and professional background; how witnessing nationalism and xenophobic populism in Eastern Europe in the 1990s prepared him for Trump's rise to power; and how he went from a relatively low-profile congressman on the intelligence committee to the Republican Party's bête noire in four years.
Schiff highlighted the widening schism between Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee - a historically bipartisan panel - following Trump's victory in the 2016 election, as well as how he steered the committee in a different direction after becoming chair in early 2019.
Under Schiff's leadership, the intelligence committee took center stage in investigating Trump's personal life and businesses. And it conducted his first impeachment inquiry in connection to the president's dealings with Ukraine ahead of the 2020 election.
Schiff on Tuesday told Insider that watching Trump's ascent to power carried "disturbing echoes of the past" for him. He was referring to his time living in Czechoslovakia in the early 1990s, where he witnessed the rise of the populist autocrat Vladimír Mečiar.
Mečiar "literally helped tear the country apart, and the country split while I was there," Schiff said, referring to the 1993 split that led to Slovakia and the Czech Republic. "Fast-forward to the rise of Donald Trump, who played on many of the same xenophobic populist themes."
The modern GOP, he said, is a shell of what it used to be, going so far as to describe the party under Trump as an "antidemocratic, anti-truth, autocratic cult."
"What surprised me is how many of my Republican colleagues would go along with that. How many of them would sacrifice everything they believed in - their ideology, their party's ideology, their morality - in the service of this deeply flawed, unethical human being," Schiff said. "And how Donald Trump would, in four short years, completely remake one of America's two great parties in his image. That was astonishing. It still is."
A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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