Head on a pike? Republican senators object after Schiff cites
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[January 25, 2020]
By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Representative Adam
Schiff, making his closing argument in the impeachment trial of U.S.
President Donald Trump on Friday, seemed to have the Senate chamber more
or less rapt, with lawmakers listening respectfully, whether they agreed
with his arguments or not.
Then the Democratic congressman mentioned a CBS News report about a
Trump confidante suggesting serious ramifications for Republican
senators if they voted against the president, and the mood on the
Republican side of the aisle shifted. Dramatically.
"Not true," Senator Susan Collins of Maine declared out loud as fellow
Republicans responded audibly and disgustedly at Schiff's remarks.
Collins is a moderate Republican whose support Democrats are trying to
win. Her response and that of her colleagues was all the more notable
because senators had been warned not to talk during the proceedings or
face potential imprisonment.
But Schiff's remarks had touched a nerve. Leading the prosecution of
Trump for Democrats from the House of Representatives, Schiff had cited
a report suggesting that Republicans, known as members of the Grand Old
Party (GOP), had been threatened.
"CBS News reported last night that a Trump confidante said that GOP
senators were warned: vote against your president ... and your head will
be on a pike," Schiff said.
"I hope it's not true. But I was struck by the irony of the idea, when
we're talking about a president who would make himself a monarch, that
whoever that was would use the terminology of a penalty that was imposed
by a monarch, a head on a pike."
Republicans said they were insulted.
"The whole room was visibly upset on our side of it. It's insulting and
demeaning to everyone to say that we live in fear and that the president
has threatened all of us," Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma
told reporters later. "Nothing like going through three days of
frustration and then cap it off with an insult."
[to top of second column]
Lead manager House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff
(D-CA) speaks during the third day of the U.S. Senate impeachment
trial of U.S. President Donald Trump in this still image from video
in the U.S. Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S.,
January 23, 2020. Senate TV/Handout via Reuters
Republicans control the U.S. Senate and are not expected to convict
and remove Trump from office in the impeachment trial. Many have
complained that Schiff and other prosecuting lawmakers, known as
managers in the trial, had presented a repetitive and unconvincing
case against Trump.
If they needed more fodder, they got it on Friday, even though
Schiff made clear he did not know if the CBS report had been true.
Democrats have accused Trump of being an authoritarian and charged
him with abusing his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate
former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic presidential
contender, and then obstructing Congress' inquiry into the matter by
barring witnesses and withholding documents.
Trump's lawyers will begin presenting his defense in the trial on
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; additional reporting by David Morgan,
Makini Brice and Nandita Bose; editing by Grant McCool)
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