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 SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders steamrolls to South Carolina primary, Super Tuesday Schiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again' Trump: Nevada a 'great win' for Sanders MORE (D-Calif.) to recuse himself in the lower chamber's impeachment inquiry of President TrumpDonald John TrumpAdvisor: Sanders could beat Trump in Texas Bloomberg rips Sanders over Castro comments What coronavirus teaches us for preventing the next big bio threat MORE

In a Wednesday letter to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiImmigrants who seek opportunity should comply with longstanding American values Trump's intel moves spark Democratic fury Buttigieg sounds alarm after Sanders wins Nevada 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 Randall MeadowsHouse Freedom Caucus chairman endorses Collins's Georgia Senate bid Lawmakers grill Census Bureau officials after report on cybersecurity issues Conservative lawmakers warn Pelosi about 'rate-setting' surprise billing fix MORE (N.C.) and Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertHouse Natural Resources gives Grijalva power to subpoena Interior Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel Sheila Jackson Lee tops colleagues in House floor speaking days over past decade 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 BidenBiden faces do-or-die primary in South Carolina Democrats view Sanders as having best shot to defeat Trump: poll Karl Rove: 'Long way to go' for Sanders to capture nomination: 'The field is splintered' 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 GiulianiBill Barr is trying his best to be Trump's Roy Cohn Former US ambassador Yovanovitch lands a book deal: report Kerry responds to Trump accusation he violated Logan Act: 'Another presidential lie' 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.”