- The Washington Times - Monday, January 20, 2020

President Trump’s lawyers made House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff a focal point of their 110-page brief they filed Monday for the impeachment trial.

They mentioned the lead impeachment manager and California Democrat nearly 100 times, far more than of the other key figures in the impeachment saga, including Hunter Biden.

A quick search for Mr. Schiff’s name yields 97 results, whereas Hunter Biden, who Mr. Trump has said should be a witness in the Senate impeachment trial, only surfaces about half that many times.

Hunter Biden was at the center of a corruption probe Mr. Trump wanted in Ukraine, where he landed a high-paying job on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company, while his father, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, was leading Obama administration policy at the time.

Mr. Trump was impeached by the House last month on two articles — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The White House legal team argues that Mr. Schiff is a “fact witness” in the president’s legal papers filed ahead of the start of the trial on Tuesday. They say Mr. Schiff, who oversaw the House’s impeachment inquiry into the president, had communicated with the whistleblower whose complaint launched the investigation into the president’s July 25 phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart where Mr. Trump asked for a probe into his political rival, Mr. Biden.

The whistleblower complaint has served as the basis for House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry and subsequent charges.

Multiple media outlets have reported Mr. Schiff’s staff communicated with the whistleblower ahead of the formal complaint being filed. Mr. Schiff has denied having direct communications with the whistleblower.

“Given the role that Chairman Schiff and his staff apparently played in advising the whistleblower, Chairman Schiff made himself a fact witness in these proceedings. The American people understand that Chairman Schiff cannot covertly assist with the submission of a complaint, mislead the public about his involvement, and then pretend to be a neutral ‘investigator.’ No wonder Chairman Schiff repeatedly denied requests to subpoena the whistleblower and shut down any questions that he feared might identify the whistleblower,” the White House brief argues.

The lawyers also say Mr. Schiff opened his committee’s hearings with a “fabricated version” of the president’s phone call and presented the call inaccurately on purpose.

The brief also argues Mr. Schiff has “lied” since March 2017, saying he had evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election, an assertion not proven after a two-year inquiry by former special counsel Robert Mueller.

“Chairman Schiff violated basic fairness by overseeing and prosecuting the proceedings while secretly being a witness in the case,” the president’s lawyers said.

Mr. Schiff risks having to answer tough questions about his involvement with a White House whistleblower by serving as a prosecutor at Mr. Trump’s trial in the Senate, where senators may be able to hit him with questions about the House case.

As the trial got underway last week with the swearing-in of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., senators and other figures in the trial, Senate Republicans considered whether Mr. Schiff’s role as a House impeachment manager could put him in the hot seat without calling him as a witness.

After the House Democrats present their case and Mr. Trump’s legal team responds, the senators will have a chance to submit written questions to both sides — including potentially to Mr. Schiff.

The rules and procedures for the trial are expected to be voted on Tuesday, but The Washington Times was told last week there was “no limitation on subject matter” for senators’ questioning.

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