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Democrats kill GOP effort to censure Rep. Schiff over impeachment inquiry

The Intelligence Committee chairman has been under fire from Trump and House Republicans.
Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, speaks to the media on Capitol Hill on Oct. 17, 2019.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Republicans failed to force a vote on the House floor on Monday evening on a resolution that would have censured House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., for his handling of the impeachment inquiry.

Democrats, who control the chamber, killed the GOP effort after House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., offered a motion to table the measure. The motion was adopted in a 218-185 vote.

Schiff tweeted minutes after the vote, "It will be said of House Republicans, When they found they lacked the courage to confront the most dangerous and unethical president in American history, They consoled themselves by attacking those who did."

Introduced by Arizona Republican Andy Biggs, who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus, the resolution alleged that Schiff "manufactured a false retelling" of the phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine's leader, instead of quoting from the record of the conversation released by the White House. Schiff made the remarks at a Sept. 26 hearing on a whistleblower complaint about the phone call.

"These actions of Chairman Schiff misled the American people, bring disrepute upon the House of Representatives, and make a mockery of the impeachment process, one of this chamber’s most solemn constitutional duties," the three-page resolution said.

Schiff, who's leading the impeachment inquiry, presented a dramatized version of the phone exchange and said later in the hearing that his initial summary "was meant to be at least part in parody. The fact that's not clear is a separate problem in and of itself."

Biggs, who introduced the resolution on the floor last week, told Fox News on Wednesday, "We have about 160 members on right now. Others are still coming on."

Trump tweeted his support for the censure resolution on Monday morning, writing, "Censure (at least) Corrupt Adam Schiff! After what he got caught doing, any pol who does not so vote cannot be honest...are you listening Dems?"

The White House's five-page description of the call shows that, amid a discussion with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy about how the U.S. is helping the country, Trump said, "I would like you to do us a favor, though" — which appears to involve discovering whether Ukraine might possess a server that contained some of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails. Trump then went on to ask Zelenskiy to "look into" the family of possible 2020 rival Joe Biden.

The House was originally expected to consider the resolution last week, but the sudden death of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, delayed a vote.

At his weekly press conference on Friday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters he thought it was "appropriate" for Schiff to be censured.

Monday's vote came ahead of several additional closed-door depositions this week by the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees in the impeachment probe. The first deposition will take place Tuesday with Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine.

Taylor is a key witness to Trump’s attempts to press Ukraine's president for an investigation of the Bidens. In a packet of text messages released by House Democrats earlier this month, Taylor remarked that it would be “crazy” to link Ukraine military assistance to help with Trump’s political campaign, something hinted at elsewhere in the messages.