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

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffBarr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn MORE (D-Calif.), who has taken a leading role in the Senate impeachment trial of President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds 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 ToddMullen: 'National security issues do not wait' for presidential transitions Republican Arkansas governor: Trump beginning transition process more 'significant' than a concession Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' 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.