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‘He Lost Me’: Schiff Angers and Annoys GOP Senators with Closing Clunker

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.”

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.

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.”

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.