Schiff says Trump tweet is 'intended to be' a threat

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOfficers offer harrowing accounts at first Jan. 6 committee hearing Live coverage: House panel holds first hearing on Jan. 6 probe Five things to watch as Jan. 6 panel begins its work MORE (D-Calif.), who has taken a leading role in the Senate impeachment trial of President TrumpDonald TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit MORE, said Sunday that a tweet from the president is "intended to be" a threat.

"I don't think it was personal to refer to the CBS story. What may be personal, though, and I think I have to be very candid about this, is I made the argument that it's going to require moral courage to stand up to this president," Schiff said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Schiff, the lead House impeachment manager in the Senate trial, added that Trump is a "vindictive" president.

"I don't think there's any doubt about it, and if you think there is, look at the president's tweets about me today saying that I should 'pay a price,'" Schiff said. 

"Do you take that as a threat?" NBC's Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddNFL Network's Rich Eisen says he has COVID-19 despite being vaccinated Newsmax host suggests vaccines 'against nature' Senate Armed Services chair: 'I think Kabul will hold' MORE asked. 

"I think it's intended to be," Schiff responded. 

Trump tweeted early Sunday morning that Schiff, whom he called a "CORRUPT POLITICIAN," has "not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!"

The tweet came after Trump's defense team attacked Schiff's credibility during its opening arguments in the Senate proceedings on Saturday.

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Schiff's decision last week to reference a CBS News report that Republican senators' heads would be on a "pike" if they break with Trump in the impeachment fight sparked backlash from some senators, including a few moderate Republicans who could be swing votes to allow witnesses as part of the trial in the upper chamber.  

Schiff said Sunday he wants to speak "candidly" about the difficulty GOP senators would face in breaking from Trump but added that he doesn't want to do it in a way that is "offensive" to them.

"It is going to be very difficult for some of these senators to stand up to this president. It really is. There's just no question about it," Schiff said. "I want to acknowledge that, and I don't want to acknowledge it in a way that is offensive to them, but I do want to speak candidly about it."

Schiff added that "if this weren't an issue," senators would not have a problem with calling witnesses. 

"If we can't even get the senators to agree to call witnesses in a trial, it shows you just how difficult that moral courage is," he said. 

Senators will likely vote early this week on whether to compel witnesses and documents as part of the ongoing trial. If all Democrats vote for the measure, they will need at least four Republicans to join them to be successful. 

Trump appeared to be listening to Schiff's interview, tweeting Sunday as it aired in another attack on Schiff's credibility. 

"After having been exposed as a fraud and corrupt, can anyone, including Sleepyeyes Chuck Todd of Fake @NBCNews, continue to listen to his con?" Trump tweeted.