Saturday, January 25, 2020

Schiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line

Jordain Carney 
09:44 PM EST

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is sparking immediate, bipartisan backlash after he referenced a CBS News report saying Republican senator heads will be on a 'pike' if they break with President Trump on the impeachment fight.

Schiff referenced the report as he was in the final stretch of his closing argument on the Senate floor on Friday night.

"CBS News report that a Trump confidant said that GOP senators were warned '... vote against the president and your head will be on a pike,'" Schiff said from the Senate floor.

Schiff had managed to win some smiles from Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), during his closing statement but the moment drew immediate blowback from Republicans, both from allies of the president and more centrist GOP senators seen as swing votes.

Though senators are supposed to sit silently during an impeachment trial, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a crucial swing vote, could be seen looking to her colleagues next to her and shaking her head.

"That's not true," she said several times from her seat, loudly enough to be overheard from the Senate gallery.

Collins said in a subsequent statement that “not only have I never heard the ‘head on the pike’ line, but also I know of no Republican Senator who has been threatened in any way by anyone in the Administration.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), also viewed as a potential swing vote, immediately knocked Schiff for his rhetoric, calling it "unnecessary."

"That's where he lost me," Murkowski told reporters after the trial wrapped, adding that Schiff "overreached."
Schiff continued to reference the CBS News report, despite the audible reaction from Republicans, adding "I don't know if that's true, but when I read that I was struck by the irony, by the irony."

But Republicans continued to verbally push back, with Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) overheard saying "no," and Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) overheard adding "that's not true."

Amid the verbal pushback, Schiff paused mid-sentence and turned toward the Republican side of the room, adding, "I hope it's not true. I hope it's not true."

The slight caveat wasn't enough to quell the Republican furor.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said the remark was "one of the most remarkable moments."

"That is completely totally false, and all of us were shaking our heads 'like where did that story come from' and Adam Schiff just kept saying it," he said.

Lankford that "the whole room was visibly upset on our side of it. ...That's insulting and demeaning."

Several Republican senators, including Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), could be seen visibly shaking their heads over Schiff's remarks.
Barrasso, speaking to reporters after the trial ended, vehemently denied that the threat from Trump ever happened.

"He has basically offended every Republican senator in there tonight," Barrasso told reporters.

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), asked about the remark, added, "I could hear the gasps."

Some Democrats also distanced themselves from the House Intelligence Committee chairman.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who has not said if he will vote to acquit or convict Trump, added that he also believed Schiff crossed the line.

"I don't know why people do that," Manchin added. "That could have been left out that's for sure."

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) acknowledged that Republicans audibly reacted, but suggested that they overreacting.

"That was the only time I heard a loud audible reaction from the Republican side. ...We know the president attacks people that work for him," Brown sad. "We know that there is fear of him throughout the Republican caucus."

Scott Wong contributed

Updated: 11:26 p.m.

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