Rep. Adam Schiff had one job. All Schiff and his fellow House managers had to do were to present their case for the impeachment of President Trump before the U.S. Senate, and the American public. Instead of bringing a few senators onto his side, especially on the idea of calling witnesses, Schiff angered the GOP senators with his reference to the “heads on a pike” news story.
As Allahpundit wrote about on Friday, CBS News reported on an alleged story of a confidant of President Trump asserting the threat that if Republican senators voted against the president, they would find their heads on a pike. The threat was never confirmed with a named source and frankly, it didn’t sound real.
Nonetheless, such a threat is a dramatic story for an otherwise really boring impeachment trial. Schiff included the story – nothing more than a rumor, really – in his closing argument Friday night. The reaction from Republican senators was immediate and it wasn’t good.
Senate Republicans — including potential swing-voters — expressed outrage Friday after lead House Impeachment Manager Adam Schiff, D-Calif., referred in his closing remarks at President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial to a report that GOP members were told they’d face dire consequences if they voted to convict the president.
“CBS News reported last night that a Trump confidant said that key senators were warned, ‘Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.’ I don’t know if that’s true,” Schiff said, while trying to persuade his Senate colleagues to vote with “moral courage” rather than in their political self-interest.
If Schiff didn’t know if it was true or not (and he didn’t) then why include it in his remarks? You know why – it was to deliberately imply that President Trump and his inner circle, his confidants, are corrupt and act like thugs. Schiff was painting the worst possible picture of Trump’s behavior during the trial and this was the icing on top of the cake – he wanted to say that Trump is so evil that he’ll make violent threats if the GOP doesn’t have his back.
The very senators that Schiff was trying to reach were the first to visibly and vocally react. Those considered as swing votes in the GOP, the ones who might vote in favor of allowing witnesses to testify, shook their heads and said, “That’s not true.” loud enough for reporters to hear them. According to Senate rules, the senators are to remain quiet and are instructed not to speak but Senator Susan Collins was among those speaking out.
From colleague Jason Donner. GOP ME Sen Collins on Schiff’s comments “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.”
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) January 25, 2020
According to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), however, it was a lie and no one ever said it.
CNN’s Manu Raju revealed after the Senate adjourned that Collins audibly disputed Schiff’s quote of the story during the trial.
“She shook her head and said, ‘No they didn’t. No, that’s not true,’” Raju reported.
Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Jim Risch (R-ID) also denied it was said.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and John Barrasso (R-WY) also said that the report was false.
Murkowski, as a matter of fact, said that Schiff “lost her” at that point.
Republicans are INCENSED about Adam Schiff’s comment about the CBS report that senators had been warned they’d have their “head on a pike” if they convict.
“He lost me there,” Lisa Murkowski said.
John Barrasso blasted Schiff for “spread falsehoods … on the Senate floor.”
— Griffin Connolly (@GriffinConnolly) January 25, 2020
“He was doing fine with moral courage until he got to the head on the pike. That's where he lost me,” Murkowksi said, per @jeffzeleny. “He’s a good orator you got to give him that … He was moving right along …and then he got to a couple places and it was just unnecessary.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 25, 2020
You may remember that during Day One of the impeachment trial, Chief Justice Roberts admonished Schiff and Rep. Jerry Nadler for their language. Both men set the tone with unneccesary vitriol in their remarks and that allowed other Democrats to do the same. The Democrats accused Republican senators and Trump’s lawyers of taking part in a cover-up and of lying. During the course of the three days, Democrats continued with their rhetoric despite Roberts’ admonishment. They referred to Trump as a monarch, a king, and during his closing remarks Friday, Rep. Nadler called Trump a dictator. Imagine that – a dictator. Nadler let that fly on the floor of the U.S.Senate. To me, that was more shocking than the stupid head on a pike rumor.
“He wants to be all powerful,” Nadler said. “He doesn’t want to have to respect the Congress, he does not have to respect the representatives of the will of the people.”
“Only his will goes,” Nadler added. “He is a dictator. This must not stand and that is another reason he must be removed from office.”
Conservatives were quick to point out to Nadler that if Trump truly is a dictator, Nadler would never have been allowed to make such an accusatory statement. Even a reporter for HuffPo acknowledged the tone-deafness of such a remark.
Exactly what GOP senators want to hear https://t.co/jSTrwSGVoh
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 24, 2020
Dictators don’t allow political critics to call them dictators from the floor of the Senate let alone on national TV. https://t.co/RgKNorC1cH
— Kim Priestap (@kimpriestap) January 25, 2020
Senator Marsha Blackburn confirmed the GOP reaction during an interview on Fox and Friends Saturday morning. The senators feel insulted and you can’t blame them.
Schiff, Nadler, and the other Democrats are desperately holding out hope that some of the more moderate Republican senators will go along with their request for testimony from witnesses on their list. I think all of this overheated hyperbole will prove to be a fatal mistake for them. All they had to do was present their case and not sound crazy. They couldn’t do it. The Democrats succumbed to their worst instincts and let their Trump derangement show through.