Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) closing arguments ended on a sour note Friday night when he repeated an ugly rumor, prompting several moderate (and considered persuadable) Republican senators to admonish him while he was still speaking.
The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee reportedly made the senators “visibly angry” when he chose to share a very sketchy CBS News report that broke earlier on Friday.
“CBS News reported last night that a Trump confidante said that GOP Senators were warned, ‘Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike!’” said Schiff, reading from the report dramatically. “Now, I don’t know if that’s true,” he added. “Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike!”
Although his remarks seemed to have provoked a reaction of dismay in the chamber, Schiff plowed on, saying that he was “struck by the irony” of it, but he was apparently interrupted by the senators.
“I hope it’s not true,” he said to someone off camera. “I hope it’s not true. He continued on to make a rather incoherent point. “I’m struck by the irony of the idea that a president who would make himself a monarch—that whoever that was would use the terminology of a penalty that was imposed by a monarch.”
Schiff just lost Collins and Murkowski for this lie. pic.twitter.com/Lc0k5Hoe0z
— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) January 25, 2020
According to multiple reporters in the chamber, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and James Risch (R-ID) called Schiff out on the lie as he was still speaking.
“That’s not true!” they reportedly said.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) reportedly burst out laughing and pulled out his “fidget spinner.” And Sen. Lisa Murkouski (R-AK) told reporters that Schiff ” lost me” with the “head on a pike” fable.
“I thought he was doing fine with moral courage until he got to the head on a pike. That’s where he lost me,” Murkoski said, according to Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Senator Barrasso (R-WY) said that whatever gains Schiff had made this week arguing for impeachment, were lost tonight,” according to Emily Cochrane of the New York Times.
"I thought he was doing fine with moral courage until he got to the head on the pike. That's where he lost me." Murkowski and Collins are 2 Republicans Dems hope to get to vote w them for witnesses.
— Lynn Sweet (@lynnsweet) January 25, 2020
“That’s not true,” Susan Collins said several times on the floor, shaking her head when Schiff cited a news report saying WH warned senators that a vote against Trump means “your head will be on a pike.” Risch also said aloud: “That’s not true.” Cotton laughed when Schiff said it
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 25, 2020
Witnessed this in real time. A number of Republican senators looked visibly angry and whispered to each other right after Rep Schiff cited a CBS report that Republicans’ heads would be on a “pike” if they voted to remove President Trump. https://t.co/5mE9KgIYaG
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) January 25, 2020
"That's not true," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Me., could be heard saying, along with several other senators.
Collins shook her head in disapproval.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., laughed at the remark, pulled out his fidget spinner, and started twirling it.
— Nicholas Wu (@nicholaswu12) January 25, 2020
Murkowski & other Rs not happy with Schiff citing CBS “head on a pike” story:
“Head on a pike … that’s where he lost me. I think he did fine until he overreached” – @lisamurkowski
— Scott Wong (@scottwongDC) January 25, 2020
Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins both said last week that they’d be likely to vote for additional information in President Trump’s impeachment trial.
The Federalist’s Sean Davis surmised that Schiff’s closing clunker was “the final nail being pounded into the coffin of the Democrats’ impeachment scheme.”
That sound you hear is the final nail being pounded into the coffin for Democrats’ impeachment scheme. It’s over. Unable to hide their contempt for GOP lawmakers and voters, Schiff and Nadler murdered their case before Trump’s lawyers even got started. https://t.co/OjAbLW8uJ6
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) January 25, 2020
Correction: An earlier version of this report misidentified Sen. James Risch’s state. He is the senator from Idaho, not Wisconsin, where he was born.