This is not helping. President Donald Trump continued a tweet tirade against the impeachment investigation today, including quoting a highly controversial pastor in his warning that removal of Trump would spark a “Civil War.” Equally disturbing was Trump’s call to have the whistleblower brought to him and for Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff to be questioned for possible treason.
Republicans joined Democrats in denouncing a retweet warning of the danger for a a “Civil War-like fracture” in the country. He also warned that there would be “big consequences” if the impeachment went forward.
The retweeted quote is from Pastor Robert Jeffress on Fox News: “‘If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.'”
I am actually more concerned about Trump’s demand to have the whistleblower brought before him, a tweet that could be viewed as intimidating and is certainly inappropriate given the status of the staff member. Trump tweeted “Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called “Whistleblower.” That is not true. A right for confrontation adheres in a criminal proceeding not an impeachment proceeding. Nevertheless, the whistleblower, who is expected to testify before Congress, can certainly be called by the Trump team in a Senate trial. To call him to a meeting before such proceedings is grossly inappropriate.
The attack on Schiff is reprehensible. I have maintained that the allegation of a quid pro quo remains unproven. However, it is a legitimate matter for congressional investigation and Schiff is acting under his constitutional authority. Indeed, this is one of the core function of the House. To suggest that such actions are treason is deeply offensive to Schiff and to our constitutional process.
These tweets are self-defeating and fuel the narrative for impeachment. Trump seems to believe that counterpunching in this way has proven effective. It hasn’t. He survived the Special Counsel investigation despite (not because of) his tweets and public statements. He survived because there was not a compelling legal basis for either criminal or impeachable charges. He is now facing an abuse of office charge and these tweets more readily fit within that type of alleged conduct.