Schiff: Trump risks 'irrevocably' altering federal balance of power

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocrats seek leverage for trial Pence's office denies Schiff request to declassify call with Ukrainian leader Comey, Schiff to be interviewed by Fox's Chris Wallace MORE (D-Calif.) said President Trump risks “irrevocably” altering the federal balance of power. 

“If the president can simply refuse all oversight, particularly in the context of an impeachment proceeding, the balance of power between our two branches of government will be irrevocably altered,” Schiff said Wednesday in his opening statement of the first public impeachment hearing.  

“That is not what the Founders intended, and the prospects for further corruption and abuse of power in this administration or any other will be exponentially increased,” Schiff added. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Schiff opened the hearing by laying out key parts of testimony three House committees leading the inquiry heard in weeks of closed-door depositions with several witnesses. The witnesses have alleged Trump withheld aid from Ukraine to get foreign leaders to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats seek leverage for trial Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE, a 2020 presidential candidate. 

“If this is not impeachable conduct, what is,” Schiff said. 

Trump has dismissed the inquiry as a “partisan witch hunt.”