Schiff: Trump could be impeached for bribery

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffPence's office questions Schiff's request to declassify more material from official's testimony: report Sunday talk shows: Lawmakers gear up ahead of Monday's House Judiciary hearing Trump denies report that he still uses personal cell phone for calls MORE (D-Calif.) suggested President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax 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 GiulianiTrump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr Trump denies report that he still uses personal cell phone for calls Giuliani draws attention with latest trip to Ukraine 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 BidenPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump Warren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Trump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr MORE.