As momentum shifted to impeaching then-President Trump for withholding aid to Ukraine in 2019, California Rep. Adam B. Schiff advised Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and the seven moderate freshman Democrats , whose Washington Post essentially backed an impeachment forced the hand of House leaders, according to a new book.
“Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump,” by Rachael Bade of Politico and Karoun Demirjian of the Post, to be released Oct. 18, offers a glimpse into the political machinations behind both of Trump’s impeachments.
Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives in 2019 for withholding aid from Ukraine while urging the country’s president to announce an investigation into Trump’s political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and was impeached again in 2021 for his actions around January 6, 2021 charged. Revolt. The Senate acquitted him both times.
Schiff’s role as a longtime Pelosi ally was well known. But that his advice also prompted a group of moderate freshmen with military and intelligence backgrounds to write an op-ed that changed public opinion about Trump’s impeachment was not previously reported. Excerpts of Schiff’s role in the impeachment trial were made available to the Times prior to the publication of the book.
“Schiff was the established bogeyman of the right at this point, and any publicized association with him could have jeopardized her re-election. But the newcomers to National Security trusted Schiff (D-Burbank). And more importantly, they believed he would know what Pelosi was up to,” the book says.
The influential freshmen first sought Schiff’s advice on July 26, 2019, two days after Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committee on his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (DN.Y.) surprised Pelosi the day before when he pushed for an impeachment trial against Trump during a meeting of House Democrats after the hearings.
For two hours, the newcomers shared with Schiff their concern that Democrats’ message to Congress about the party’s achievements in Congress heading into the 2020 presidential election was bogged down by speculation of an impeachment trial against Trump.
The Democratic novices, who represented all districts that either had a majority of Republican voters or had supported Trump in 2016, realized that voting on impeachment at home would be unpopular.
At the conclusion of the meeting, “the newbies pressed Schiff on one final, critical question: Is Pelosi planning impeachment? Is this all where this is going? If anyone knew, it was him. “If so, just tell us,” said one member. “We don’t want any surprises,” agreed another. “Nothing is going on,” Schiff assured them,” the book said.
Schiff didn’t say it at the time, but according to the book, he had already prepared to impeach Trump. He had hired outside investigative staff, including former New York-based US Attorney Dan Goldman, to lead his panel’s investigations. The committee staff prepared by reading How the Good Guys Final Won by Jimmy Breslin, a book about the effort to oust President Nixon.
Goldman was the leading Democratic attorney during Trump’s first impeachment trial. He is currently the Democratic nominee for New York’s 10th congressional district.
After Trump’s attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani said on CNN Sept. 19 that he was trying to persuade Ukrainian leaders to investigate Biden, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) rekindled a conversation about impeachment Gear.
“‘Does anyone think this is contestable?’ She asked her fellow National Security students about Signal, an encrypted messaging app they regularly use to chat as a group,” the book reads.
The group decided to meet with Schiff again. The book states that the members wanted to make sure that if they voted for impeachment, they didn’t appear to be following Pelosi’s lead.
“If impeachment came, they wanted a chance to get out of it — and especially out of Pelosi,” the book says.
Schiff predicted to the freshmen the next day in the House dressing room that Trump’s reluctance to give Ukraine aid to Pelosi, who had refused for months to consider mounting calls for impeachment from the party’s left wing, would change. He also told them he agreed Trump crossed a line that deserved his removal.
“As they drove to the airport to fly back to their districts, the national security freshmen began discussing whether it was time to take a public stand. After all, it was only a matter of time before Schiff accepted impeachment before Pelosi did too,” Bade and Demirjian write in their book.
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The group chose to publish an opinion piece in the Post outlining the national security reasons they believed an investigation into Trump’s impeachment was warranted, knowing that her background in intelligence and the military ” would add an extra touch of credibility to the movement, especially since it had spent so long opposing it – and would likely push the House headfirst into the process,” the book reads.
While the national security freshmen have publicly claimed that they did not consult Pelosi or other Democratic leaders before publishing the commentary, the book cites several people with first-hand knowledge who say the group is the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives on September 21, 2019 even received feedback from Pelosi’s staff on how to frame their argument in the Opinion.
In a private phone call the same day, Schiff and Pelosi discussed the impact that the proposed freshman statement would have on the impeachment debate.
They could no longer avoid the inevitable, Schiff told Pelosi, according to the book.
“I think it’s time to move forward with impeachment,” Schiff told Pelosi, asking for her blessing to speak on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday morning.
His statement on the show that “we may very well have crossed the Rubicon here” became an often-cited fanfare for the Democrats early in the trial.
On Sunday evening, Pelosi told Nadler that her position on the impeachment process was changing.
“The newcomers to national security are writing a letter supporting impeachment,” she told Nadler. It’s time to move,” the book says.
The freshmen spent Monday finalizing the language in their opinion piece and officially notified Pelosi at 5:30 p.m., an hour and a half after sending the comment to the Post. It was released at 9 p.m
“If these allegations are true, we believe these actions constitute a criminal offense subject to review,” the opinion article said. “We have dedicated our lives to the service and safety of our country…Now we join together as a united group to uphold that oath as we break new ground and face unprecedented allegations against President Trump.”
At the time, Pelosi attended the opening of the 2019 United Nations General Assembly in New York. One of her assistants gave her a printed copy as she boarded a plane back to Washington.
As the plane took off, the book says, Pelosi began scribbling notes in the margins for a speech she would deliver the next day, September 24, 2019, announcing a House impeachment inquiry into Trump, who is withholding aid to Ukraine to be directed to Schiff and Nadler.
https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-09-29/new-trump-impeachment-book-schiff-rally-moderates-pelosi New Trump impeachment book details Schiff’s role rallying Pelosi