House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff pushed back against criticism that the House didn’t do enough to enforce its impeachment subpoenas, rejecting a need to tangle with the courts.
“If you argue that, well, the House needed to go through endless months or even years of litigation before bringing about an impeachment, you effectively nullify the impeachment clause,” Schiff said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
“You allow the president of the United States — by delay, by playing rope-a-dope in the courts — to defeat the power of the impeachment clause,” the California Democrat added, employing a boxing term describing a strategy designed to wear out one’s opponent.
Democrats have repeatedly questioned whether the Senate trial will be fair, painting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as the gatekeeper who will deny Americans what they want if he doesn’t allow the House to introduce documents or call witnesses.
McConnell still hasn't released his resolution laying out the rules and timetables for the trial. Still, he is known to be considering a much tighter schedule — compared to that of President Bill Clinton’s 1999 trial — that has fewer days for arguments and no guarantee of new witnesses.
To hear from witnesses in the Senate trial, Democrats would need four Republicans to side with them. But Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said the House could have thrown more weight behind its subpoenas by going to court — possibly for witnesses that top Democrats see as crucial, such as former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
On Sunday, Schiff argued that the House did try to get many key witnesses, but they ignored the subpoenas “because of the president’s obstruction.” Schiff added that the Trump administration “can’t have it both ways,” saying that the Justice Department has argued that the House should not enforce subpoenas through the court system.
“The reality is, because what the president is threatening to do is cheat in the next election, you cannot wait months and years to be able to remove that threat from office,” Schiff said.