U.S. President Donald Trump has called on House intelligence committee Chair Adam Schiff to “immediately resign” from Congress for publicly reading what he claims was a fraudulent version of his conversation with the Ukrainian president.
In a series of tweets, Trump accused the Democratic congressman of “completely” changing the words of the now-infamous phone call to make him “sound horrible” and appear “guilty.”
“HE WAS DESPERATE AND HE GOT CAUGHT. Adam Schiff therefore lied to Congress and attempted to defraud the American Public,” Trump wrote.
“He has been doing this for two years. I am calling for him to immediately resign from Congress based on this fraud.”
On Thursday, Schiff led a congressional hearing related to a whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The whistleblower alleges Trump attempted to seek foreign interference in the U.S. election by asking Zelenskiy to dig up dirt on his political rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and his family during a July phone call.
The complaint is at the centre of the House impeachment probe.
According to the complaint, White House officials took extraordinary steps to “lock down” information on Trump’s call, even moving the transcript to a secret computer system.
Schiff has said the whistleblower “has given us a roadmap for our investigation.”
Trump’s Twitter attacks stem from claims that Schiff misquoted the transcript of the call with Zelenskiy during his opening statements at the hearing with Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence.
Schiff described Trump as saying on the call that he would tell Zelenskiy “seven times” to “make up dirt” on his “political opponent.”
Schiff was criticized by several committee members for his rough reading of the transcript, which was released publicly that day.
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He said his “summary” of the call was meant to be at least in part “parody.”
“The fact that that’s not clear is a separate problem in and of itself,” he said in response. “Of course, the president never said, ‘If you don’t understand me, I’m going to say it seven more times.’ My point is that’s the message that the Ukraine president was receiving, in not so many words.”
Trump’s barrage of tweets about Schiff included a call for him to be formally investigated.
“Rep. Adam Schiff totally made up my conversation with Ukraine President and read it to Congress and Millions,” he wrote. “He must resign and be investigated. He has been doing this for two years. He is a sick man!”
Schiff fired back at Trump on Twitter on Friday.
He accused Trump of engaging in a “shakedown to get election dirt from a foreign country.”
“And then you tried to cover it up,” he wrote. “But you’re right about one thing — your words need no mockery. Your own words and deeds mock themselves. But most importantly here, they endanger our country.”
It appears Twitter is not the only place Trump hurled criticism at Schiff and the investigation.
In a 15-minute video obtained by Bloomberg News, Trump comments on Schiff and Biden during a private meeting of U.S. diplomats in New York.
At one point, Trump makes comments about the size of Schiff’s neck.
“He’s got a neck about this big,” Trump said. “He’s got shirts that are too big because you can’t buy shirts that are that small.”
Trump reiterated the claim at the centre of the controversial call with Zelenskiy — that Biden helped his son improperly earn millions in business deals with Ukraine and China. No evidence for the claim has been found or presented.
He referred to Biden as “Sleepy Joe Biden,” who is “dumb as a rock.”
He also turned his attacks to the whistleblower.
“We’re at war,” he said. “I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy.”
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He went on to suggest that it was treason. An audio snippet of Trump’s “spy” comments was released earlier by the Los Angeles Times.
“You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi voiced concern over those comments to MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday.
She said the House panels conducting the impeachment probe will make sure there’s no retaliation against people who provided information.
— With files from the Associated Press