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Schiff calls Trump 'vindictive' and says Trump's tweet was intended to intimidate

Posted January 26, 2020 11:17 a.m. EST

— Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff on Sunday called President Donald Trump "wrathful and vindictive," adding that he thought a morning tweet by the President was intended to intimidate him.

During an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Schiff was asked if he viewed Trump's tweet that "he has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!" as a threat. Schiff responded,"I think it's intended to be." Trump's Twitter attack on Schiff was one of several the President launched online Sunday against Democrats and his Senate impeachment trial.

In concluding the House's opening argument Friday evening, Schiff, a California Democrat and the chairman of the House Intelligence Chairman, delivered a lengthy argument for removing the President from office on the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

On Sunday, Schiff defended his citation of a CBS News report that said Republican senators had been told "your head will be on a pike" if they vote against the President. Schiff's comment, made during the final day of his team's opening arguments, sparked an audible reaction from Republican senators in the chamber -- a reaction some Democrats have dismissed as faux outrage.

Schiff said Sunday that he was making an argument that it is going to be very difficult for senators to stand up to Trump.

"And I think I have to be very candid about this ... I made the argument that it's going to require moral courage to stand up to this President," he said. "And this is a wrathful and vindictive President. I don't think there's any doubt about it and if you think there is, look at the President's tweets about me today, saying that I should pay a price."

Later Sunday, Trump also tweeted insults at "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd who conducted the interview with Schiff.

'I think it was a huge mistake'

Asked about his reaction to Trump's legal team's first day of opening arguments in the impeachment trial Saturday, Schiff said he believed the President's team was "afraid of what witnesses have to say," therefore the White House's entire trial strategy has been to "deprive the public of a fair trial" -- reiterating yet again that a fair trial requires witnesses.

Trump's legal team, he said, "basically acknowledged the scheme" -- and that its main argument was "you don't need a fair trial here," adding that there was no "exoneration" if the country was deprived of a fair trial.

Schiff also said he thought it was a "huge mistake" that Trump's lawyers repeated a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 US presidential election.

"I was surprised. I think it was a huge mistake... they go and double down on that same crazy conspiracy theory that Ukraine hacked the DNC server. It's astonishing," Schiff said. "On the first day of the President's defense, to say that the President should disbelieve his own intelligence agencies, has every right to believe (Russian President) Vladimir Putin. I wouldn't want to make that argument."

The President's personal attorney Jay Sekulow has signaled that the defense team is likely to go after former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as the Russia investigation into the President and the opposition research dossier from ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele.

The President's team is delivering its presentation as White House and Senate GOP sources have told CNN they are confident they will defeat a vote next week for additional witnesses that would extend the trial. But there were no mentions of the former vice president or his son Saturday.

Schiff, asked about a possible deal where Democrats and Republicans would both call the witnesses they want in order to have trial testimony, said he believes the President "has the right to call relevant witnesses...in his defense," but he made clear he did not believe that Hunter Biden is a "relevant witness."

"If we're talking about a fair trial.... (Senators) can't say, 'Well, we're going to allow the President to trade witnesses that don't shed any light on the facts, but would allow him to once again try to smear his opponent," Schiff said.

"Hunter Biden can't tell us anything about the withholding of military funding. Hunter Biden can't tell us why the President wouldn't let the President if Ukraine into the Oval office. Hunter Biden can't tell us anything about that," he added.

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