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Conservative lawmakers demand Schiff's recusal from Trump impeachment inquiry

Conservative lawmakers demand Schiff's recusal from Trump impeachment inquiry
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Several members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are calling on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse Democrats want to silence opposing views, not 'fake news' White House defends not sanctioning Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi What good are the intelligence committees? MORE (D-Calif.) to recuse himself in the lower chamber's impeachment inquiry of President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot Intelligence community investigating links between lawmakers, Capitol rioters Michelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' MORE

In a Wednesday letter to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Top Republican: 'Outrageous' to extend National Guard deployment at Capitol Progressives won't oppose bill over limits on stimulus checks MORE (D-Calif.), the GOP lawmakers argued that Schiff isn't suited for a role in the probe due to his panel's correspondence with the whistleblower who filed a complaint concerning President Trump's interactions with Ukraine. That whistleblower communicated with an Intelligence Committee aide before filing the complaint, but the staffer never shared the person's identity with Schiff.

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The conservative lawmakers assert that the revelations make Schiff "a potential fact witness" and claim that the California congressman's previous actions show he's not up for "this serious responsibility."

Republican Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsHow scientists saved Trump's FDA from politics Liberals howl after Democrats cave on witnesses Kinzinger calls for people with info on Trump to come forward MORE (N.C.) and Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertNIH director: Mask politicalization may have cost 'tens of thousands' of lives in US Democrats should make the 'Bee-Gees' the face of the Republican Party GOP lawmakers call for Pelosi to be fined over new screenings MORE (Texas) were among the signatories. 

“For over two years, Schiff misled the American people with his numerous attempts to manufacture evidence of collusion between Donald Trump and the Russian government. Once that fairytale evaporated, Mr. Schiff quickly moved on to his next hoax: a non-existent quid pro quo between President Trump and the President of Ukraine," the lawmakers said in a joint statement. "This time, just like the Russian hoax, Mr. Schiff has been caught manipulating facts leading to baseless accusations against the President. Mr. Schiff is hardly an unbiased arbiter of this unauthorized impeachment process, and we call for his immediate recusal.”

A spokeswoman for Schiff said the Freedom Caucus resolution is simply an effort by Republicans to distract the public from the president's conduct.

“Schiff is focused on the impeachment inquiry and considers the resolution part of a broader effort coordinated by the White House to distract from the growing body of evidence of the president’s serious misconduct," the spokeswoman said in a statement to The Hill. 

A litany of revelations regarding Trump's effort to encourage Ukraine to investigate 2020 presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot FireEye finds evidence Chinese hackers exploited Microsoft email app flaw since January Biden officials to travel to border amid influx of young migrants MORE led the House to launch a formal impeachment inquiry last month. Several committees, including Schiff's, have called for documents and depositions from numerous Trump administration officials as part of the probe. 

Republicans have repeatedly taken issue with how Schiff has handled the inquiry. Trump last month suggested that the chairman should be arrested for treason for exaggerating parts of the president's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky. 

Several lawmakers also voiced outrage last week after it was revealed that the committee staffer spoke with the whistleblower. 

The congressional aide advised the figure to find a lawyer and to file a formal whistleblower complaint, actions Schiff and other legal experts said are standard procedure.

His arguments did not deter Republicans like  Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, who called on Schiff to step down as chairman for failing to share information related to the whistleblower with the panel. 

Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill Giuliani again suspended from YouTube over false election claims Sacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech MORE, said earlier this week that he would not testify before the House Intelligence Committee unless Schiff was removed as its chairman. 

“I wouldn’t testify in front of that committee until there is a vote of Congress and he is removed,” Giuliani said, referring to Schiff. “Let them hold me in contempt. We’ll go to court. We’ll challenge the contempt.”

The comments came the same day that the White House vowed to refuse to cooperate in the impeachment inquiry, which it called an effort to “overturn the results of the 2016 election.”