Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) told the Senate that it would be wrong for a president to ask the Department of Justice to investigate a political rival. But Schiff defended then-President Barack Obama doing just that to then-candidate Donald Trump.
The remark came during the first of two days of questions and answers in President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.
Schiff was responding to a query osed by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), asking a hypothetical question about whether Obama would have had the authority to investigate suspected corruption by a son of Mitt Romney, Obama’s rival in his 2012 re-election campaign.
The lead House manager dismissed the hypothetical, then went on to argue that a president should not ask the DOJ to investigate a rival.
Counterintelligence investigations differ from criminal investigations in their means, scope and ultimate disposition. Their goal is not successful prosecutions, but to identify and mitigate threats to national security. If a foreign power possessed compromising information on a U.S. government official in a position of influence, that is a counterintelligence risk. If a foreign power possessed leverage, or the perception of it, over the president, that is a counterintelligence nightmare.
Later on, White House attorney Jay Sekulow noted that Trump had been a victim of exactly the kind of investigation that the Obama administration had initiated under Operation Crossfire Hurricane.
Schiff is on record backing that investigation, as above.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.