House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff strongly signaled that Democrats would focus their impeachment case against President Donald Trump around a “bribery” charge.
According to audio in a new NPR interview, Schiff argued that the Founders had a “broader” definition of bribery that included abuse of power and breach of the public trust by elected officials, suggesting that it would be the central crime in the “high crimes and misdemeanors” specified by the Constitution for impeachment of a president.
“As the Founders understood bribery, it was not as we understand it in law today. It was much broader,” Schiff told NPR. “It connoted the breach of the public trust in a way where you’re offering official acts for some personal or political reason, not in the nation’s interest.”
Schiff went on to explain that he believes the public investigation of potential 2020 rival Joe Biden, which multiple Trump administration witnesses have confirmed the White House pushed to obtain from Ukrainian authorities, is the “something of value” to satisfy the bribery charge.
He also disputed the Republican rebuttal that Trump never got what he wanted from Ukraine.
“When you consider the serious terms of whether the president has committed an impeachable offense, the fact that the scheme was discovered, the fact that the scheme was unsuccessful, doesn’t make it any less odious or any less impeachable,” Schiff argued. “If the president solicited for help in the U.S. election, if the president conditioned official acts on the performance of these political favors, whether Ukraine ever had to go through with it really doesn’t matter. What matters is: Did the president attempt to commit acts that ought to result in his removal from office?”
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