In a perhaps unsurprising display of party unity, the Democrats and Republicans both flocked to their own side over the issue of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and his alleged lies regarding the notorious Trump-Ukraine phonecall. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-AZ) attempted to gain censure through HR 604 which called out Schiff for his dishonesty. The bill was blocked on Oct. 21 by a vote of 218 to 185, strictly along party lines.
House Foreign Affairs Committee lead Republican member Michael McCaul (TX) said there’s “no evidence of a quid pro quo” in the phone call. “At least have a vote on the House floor to move forward with this,” he said of the censure resolution. “It defies democracy. All Adam Schiff is doing right now is building a secret record … in a one-sided process to move forward toward impeachment.”
Republicans Furious the Process Is a ‘Kangaroo Court’
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that because Schiff is interviewing State Department officials in secret, Republicans do not have a chance to see transcripts or be apprised of what’s being said in testimony. “We’ve got officers going up there to testify about important security-related matters, without a State Department lawyer in the room. And then, we’re not being allowed to know what it says,” he said, adding:
“We’re not able to protect the State Department. We’re not able to protect the United States of America. And, Adam Schiff ought to be embarrassed by the kangaroo court that he’s running.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-CA) criticized Schiff during his weekly press conference, saying, “Rep. Adam Schiff isn’t a special prosecutor. He is a member of Congress, and his actions are a blatant abuse of power.” During his speech, McCarthy talked about how the Dems are focused only on getting rid of the president instead of such important matters as our troops and how Schiff’s continued lying to the American people needs to be checked. McCarthy wholeheartedly agreed with the move to censure:
“But I think what is appropriate, based upon how many times he [Schiff] has lied to us, to the American public, he should be censured. And I think that’s a question for every single member of Congress. How can you trust an individual who misled us on a transcript, that had the speaker only waited 48 hours we’d never be where we are today, misled us about what he said he knew beyond circumstantial evidence and spent millions of dollars and took America through a nightmare, and now tweeting in August saying he doesn’t know who the whistleblower is at the same time his staff is going to the Ukraine, at the same time his staff is meeting with the whistleblower.”
Censure Is Nothing More Than a Slap on the Wrist
The first time the House censured one of its members was in 1832, when William Stanbery insulted Speaker Andrew Stevenson. Censuring a representative is a public shaming of a person’s integrity. Although more action could be taken beyond censure, such as reprimand or even expulsion, the primary effect is putting on record that someone has behaved inappropriately.
But does that mean as much today as it used to? Being accused and publicly shamed used to be an embarrassment and a disgrace, casting a black shadow on a person’s honor. Today’s politicians don’t seem to show any shame. Will censure even be effective in the future? In the upside-down world of Trump Derangement Syndrome, it might be worn as a badge of honor.
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