House rejects GOP measure censuring Schiff

Democrats in the House turned aside a GOP-led privileged resolution to censure House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffJan. 6 panel subpoenas four ex-Trump aides Bannon, Meadows Schiff: Criminal contempt charges possible for noncooperation in Jan. 6 probe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks MORE (D-Calif.) on Monday in a straight party-line 218-185 vote.

Republicans and President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE have increasingly targeted Schiff, a public face of the impeachment effort.

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They have taken issue with Schiff’s exaggerated account of the details of President Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a hearing in September. Schiff has defended his remarks as being an intentional parody of Trump’s comments.

Republicans also said Schiff should be rebuked for saying his committee did not have any contact with a whistleblower making allegations against Trump prior to the whistleblower’s submission of a complaint. It later emerged that the whistleblower had contacted the Intelligence panel and had spoken to a staffer for Schiff.

The California Democrat hit back against the effort on Twitter, saying GOP lawmakers are failing "to confront the most dangerous and unethical president in American history."

The censure resolution, introduced by Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), called for Schiff’s resignation and stated that his comments were an “egregiously false and fabricated retelling” that “had no relationship to the call itself.” 

It said Schiff had “misled the American people,” brought disrepute on the House and made “a mockery of the impeachment process, one of this chamber’s most solemn constitutional duties.”

The measure was co-sponsored by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyFifth House Republican comes out in support of bipartisan infrastructure bill Watch live: McCarthy holds briefing with reporters The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks MORE (R-Calif.), Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseFifth House Republican comes out in support of bipartisan infrastructure bill Democratic leaders racing toward Monday infrastructure vote House GOP to whip against bipartisan infrastructure bill MORE (R-La.) and conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyHouse passes sweeping defense policy bill Trump rips Bush for backing Cheney Bush to hold fundraiser for Cheney MORE.

“On numerous occasions, as outlined in this resolution, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has used his position to mislead the American people,” McCarthy said. “When false evidence is entered into the official record, or communicated directly to the American people, the people's House loses the credibility it needs to function properly.”

The measure also included language alleging that members of the Intelligence Committee had “lost faith” in Schiff’s ability to be objective as chairman and that his remarks hindered the committee’s ability to carry out its oversight responsibilities.

Top Democrats, including Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs Democrats steamroll toward showdown on House floor Panic begins to creep into Democratic talks on Biden agenda MORE (D-Calif.), have strongly defended Schiff’s leadership in the probe, arguing Republicans aren’t doing enough to stand up to the president. 

“Chairman Schiff is a great American patriot. Our country is extremely well-served by his serious, smart and strategic leadership to protect our elections, national security and democracy — which sadly stands in stark contrast to Republicans in the Congress who cover up the truth, look the other way when the President invites foreign governments to interfere in our elections and vote against legislation to secure the ballot from foreign attacks,” Pelosi said in a statement. 

The vote was initially expected to come to the floor on Thursday but was delayed at the request of Biggs following the death of Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFormer GOP congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik suing Candace Owens for defamation Former Cummings staffer unveils congressional bid McCarthy, GOP face a delicate dance on Jan. 6 committee MORE (D-Md.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

A censure vote is designed to allow Congress to publicly rebuke and disapprove of a member's behavior or alleged misconduct.