Schiff: Trump could be impeached for bribery

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffREAD: House impeachment managers' trial brief Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP MORE (D-Calif.) suggested President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE’s possible impeachable offenses include bribery in an interview set to air Wednesday with NPR’s Steve Inskeep.

"On the basis of what the witnesses have had to say so far, there are any number of potentially impeachable offenses: including bribery, including high crimes and misdemeanors," Schiff said in the interview. "The basic allegations against the president are that he sought foreign interference in a U.S. election, that he conditioned official acts on the performance of these political favors."

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In the interview, Schiff said bribery, one of the offenses the Constitution outlines as impeachable, had a different meaning at the time the Constitution was written than how it is commonly understood today.

“It was much broader. It connoted the breach of the public trust in a way where you're offering official acts for some personal or political reason, not in the nation's interest,” Schiff said. “Here you have the president of the United States seeking help from Ukraine in his reelection campaign in the form of two investigations that he thought were politically advantageous, including one of his primary rival.”

“It doesn't have to be cash. It can be something of value,” Schiff added, saying that conditioning foreign aid on political favors could be considered bribery even in the modern context.

“And clearly, given the concerted effort that was brought about to get these investigations going by the president, by Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiDemocrats file brief against Trump, 'the Framers' worst nightmare' Trump lawyers attack House impeachment as 'brazen and unlawful' effort to overturn 2016 results Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE, by Ambassador [Gordon] Sondland, by others, this was something of great value to the president,” he said.

These comments from Schiff follow a marked shift in the rhetoric used by Democrats to describe what they believe are impeachable offenses committed by President Trump. 

As the public hearings draw nearer, Schiff and others have sharpened the language they use to speak about the president, dropping the phrase "quid pro quo" and centering their argument around more caustic, widely used terminology such as "bribery" and "extortion." 

House Democrats opened the impeachment inquiry in late September after a whistleblower filed a complaint alleging that during a July 25 call, Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden alleges Sanders campaign 'doctored video' to attack him on Social Security record Sanders campaign responds to Biden doctored video claims: Biden should 'stop trying to doctor' public record Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger pens op-ed in defense of Biden: 'I stuttered once, too. I dare you to mock me' MORE.