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Schiff describes whistleblower complaint as 'most graphic evidence yet' against Trump

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGroups see new openings for digging up dirt on Trump Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference MORE (D-Calif.) described the whistleblower complaint against President TrumpDonald TrumpSt. Louis lawyer who pointed gun at Black Lives Matter protesters considering Senate run Chauvin found guilty as nation exhales US says Iran negotiations are 'positive' MORE as the "most graphic evidence yet" that Trump has abused his oath of office.

Trump “sacrificed our national security and the Constitution for his personal political benefit” during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Schiff said in his opening statement at a hearing on the complaint, which was made public minutes before he spoke.

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An edited transcript of the call released by the White House Wednesday confirmed that Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden overruled Blinken, top officials on initial refugee cap decision: report Suicide bombing hits Afghan security forces Jim Jordan, Val Demings get in shouting match about police during hearing MORE and his son Hunter Biden.

Trump has said he did nothing improper, while excoriating Democrats for a "witch hunt."

Schiff evoked the founder's vision of the Constitution, calling it the president’s obligation “to defend the institutions of our democracy, to defend our system of checks and balances that the Constitution enshrines, to defend the rule of law.”

The California lawmaker raised details about the whistleblower complaint released earlier Thursday, saying that Zelensky sought to "ingratiate himself" while making clear that he would like resources to help combat Russian aggression.

The chairman described Trump as acting like a mob boss who hears what someone wants and then makes clear their demands before bestowing such asks, an argument he'd also made Wednesday.

“And what is the president’s response — well it reads like a classic organized crime shakedown. In essence, what President Trump communicates is this: We’ve been very good to your country,” Schiff said.

“Very good. No other country has done as much as we have. But you know what, I don’t see much reciprocity here. You know what I mean? I hear what you want. I have a favor I want from you though.”

Schiff stressed the importance of whistleblowers within the intelligence community to his committee.

“If that system is allowed to break down, as it did here, if whistleblowers come to understand they will not be protected, one of two things happen — serious wrongdoing goes unreported, or whistleblowers take matters into their own hands and divulge classified information to the press in violation of the law and placing our security at risk,” he said in the opening remarks.

Schiff went on to call the handling of the complaint by acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire “deeply troubling.”

“By law, the whistleblower complaint, which brought this gross misconduct to light, should have been presented to this committee weeks ago, and by you, Mr. Director, under the clear letter of the law,” he said.