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Adam Schiff censured for telling Republicans inconvenient truths

Why was Adam Schiff censured? Because he had the audacity to tell Republicans inconvenient truths the party didn't want to hear.


It was just last week when the Republican-led House took up a ridiculous resolution. Hoping to punish Rep. Adam Schiff, the GOP considered a measure that would’ve censured the California Democrat, directed the House Ethics Committee to open an investigation into his work on the Russia scandal, and impose a $16 million fine on the congressman.

The resolution failed: 20 Republicans joined with Democrats to reject the nonsensical resolution. It was obviously time for lawmakers to move on to other priorities.

Or so it seemed. After last week’s vote, as the former House Intelligence Committee chairman spoke to reporters, right-wing Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida “rolled by on a foot scooter,” interrupted Schiff, and let everyone know that she intended to try again.

And so she did. This time, a revised version of the resolution — the provision related to a $16 million fine was removed — actually passed. NBC News reported:

The House took the rare step Wednesday of censuring one of its own members, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, over his criticisms of then-President Donald Trump and his role in leading the first impeachment inquiry into the former president.

The final tally was 213-209, and while not every member participated in the vote, literally zero Republicans opposed the measure.

Indeed, it’s worth appreciating the extent to which this was a coordinated attack against a key Democrat, not a weird gambit launched by a far-right first-year congresswoman that her party grudgingly agreed to endorse. Luna told Politico, for example, that she was going after Schiff “at the suggestion” of a member of leadership.

Two days later, none other than Donald Trump celebrated Luna, said Schiff “should be imprisoned,” and declared via his social media platform, “Any Republican voting against his CENSURE, or worse, should immediately be primaried.”

At that point, the ultimate outcome was no longer in doubt.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy justified the abuse Wednesday afternoon by blaming Schiff for leading the nation “through a national nightmare with the fake Russia collusion narrative.” McCarthy had already punished the Democrat by kicking him off the House Intelligence Committee without cause, but evidently, that wasn’t quite enough for the GOP leader.

McCarthy’s message Wednesday brought this ugly exercise into sharper focus. At its core, the partisan anti-Schiff tantrum comes down to a simple truth: Republicans, even now, still don’t want to accept the legitimacy of the Trump/Russia scandal. The point of these punishments is to punish Schiff for exposing facts the GOP found politically inconvenient.

But that doesn’t make the facts any less true. As we discussed last week, whether Republicans want to hear this or not, the seriousness of Trump’s Russia scandal has not been discredited, and when Schiff said there was “ample evidence” connecting the Trump’s political operation and his Russian benefactors, he was correct. In fact, a Senate Intelligence Committee’s report — written in part by the panel’s then-Republican majority — at one point literally described a “direct tie between senior Trump Campaign officials and the Russian intelligence services.”

Years later, it appears that effectively all of the House Republican Conference not only wants to relitigate this, they’re also eager to punish Schiff for having the audacity to expose truths the GOP preferred to keep hidden.

In the process, McCarthy and his team have cheapened what it means to be censured by the House. Resolutions such as these are rare in American history — only 25 U.S. House members have ever been censured by their colleagues — and in recent generations, they’ve been used only to punish actual wrongdoing.

On Wednesday, however, 213 House Republicans thought it’d be a good idea to censure a member for telling the truth.

Immediately after the vote, as McCarthy banged the gavel, House Democrats chanted “Shame!" and “Disgrace!” as they heckled the House speaker. By all appearances, the Republican leader was indifferent to the rebukes.

As the fundamentally unserious stunt helped suggest, it’s an open question as to whether McCarthy is even capable of feeling shame.