House Republicans on Wednesday voted to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a rare reprimand of a sitting lawmaker that the GOP conference delivered as a rebuke for his efforts against former President Trump.
It also marked the apex of Republicans’ years-long campaign against Schiff, who emerged as a bogeyman on the right for his unrelenting criticism of Trump’s alleged ties with Russia, and was cemented as a chief GOP adversary on Capitol Hill when he led the first impeachment inquiry targeting Trump.
A stunning scene took place after the vote, as Democrats in the chamber surrounded Schiff on the House floor, chanting “Adam, Adam.” They interrupted Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who had taken the gavel for the vote, repeatedly as he tried to deliver the results of the vote.
Schiff — who is currently entrenched in a competitive Senate primary against two House colleagues — embraced the extraordinary punishment, declaring on the floor in an impassioned speech that he would repeat his past actions of holding “a dangerous and out of control president accountable” if called upon to do so in the future.
“Today, I wear this partisan vote as a badge of honor,” Schiff said Wednesday. “Knowing that I have lived my oath. Knowing that I have done my duty, to hold a dangerous and out of control president accountable. And knowing that I would do so again — in a heartbeat — if the circumstances should ever require it.”
Luna’s resolution censures Schiff “for misleading the American public and for conduct unbecoming of an elected Member of the House of Representatives,” and it directs the Ethics Committee to conduct an investigation into the congressman’s “falsehoods, misrepresentations, and abuses of sensitive information.”
The four-page measure accuses Schiff of spreading false claims that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, abusing the trust afforded to him as chairman and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee when airing the Trump-Russia allegations, and behaving “dishonestly and dishonorably” when discussing events related to Trump’s first impeachment.
“The American people do not trust Congress. The cyclical pattern of lies has worn down the credibility of every institution and every official in the United States government. You see it, I see it,” Luna said on the House floor during debate Wednesday.
“If we run away from the opportunity to hold this man accountable there is only one fault, and that is of ourselves,” she continued. “We will betray the people who trusted us and sent us here to do the right thing, we will be responsible of any shred of justice in this body, and we will reject the duty that we swore an oath to protect upon taking office.”
Luna first moved to censure Schiff last week, bringing a censure resolution — which she introduced last month — to the floor as a privileged measure, which forced the House to act on it. But 20 Republicans joined Democrats in supporting a motion to table the measure, a move that blocked it from coming to the floor for a vote.
A number of the GOP defectors took issue with a non-binding “whereas” clause in the measure that said if the Ethics Committee found that Schiff “lied, made misrepresentations, and abused sensitive information,” he should be fined $16 million, saying that it was unconstitutional. That dollar figure, the resolution claimed, was half the amount of money that American taxpayers paid to fund the investigation into potential collusion between Trump and Russia.
In an effort to allay those concerns, Luna introduced a new, revamped resolution at the end of last week that nixed the fine language — the chief difference between the two — and made a handful of other revisions. Additionally, the new resolution just calls for censuring Schiff while the original involved censuring and condemning the congressman.
The Florida Republican called the revised resolution to the floor as a privileged measure on Tuesday, restarting the process for the second time in a week and forcing another vote.
The changes were enough to erase the GOP concerns: all Republicans voted against a Democratic-led motion to table the resolution, sending it to the floor for a vote and setting up what would become just the sixth censure of a lawmaker since 1980, and the twenty-fifth in history, according to the House website.
The House last censured a lawmaker in November 2021, when Democrats delivered a rebuke to Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) for posting an anime video depicting him violently attacking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and President Biden. Before that, the most recent censures were in December 2010 and July 1983.
It was not, however, the House GOP’s first rebuke of Schiff. Earlier this year, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) blocked him and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from serving on the House Intelligence Committee. Luna has also filed a resolution to expel Schiff, though it has not progressed in the chamber.
Throughout the week-long censure saga, Democrats accused Luna — a vocal Trump supporter — and Republicans of launching an effort against Schiff as a way to distract from the former president’s legal troubles. Trump was indicted by the Justice Department on 37 counts earlier this month as part of the investigation into his mishandling of classified documents. He pleaded not guilty.
“The party of Lincoln and his Lincolnites has become the party of Luna and her Luna followers. Today’s mad-cap antics are an obvious deflection from Trump’s deepening legal troubles,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the ranking member of the Oversight Committee, said on the House floor.
“The GOP simply has no ideas for our economy, no ideas for our country and no idea for our people, but is on an embarrassing revenge tour on behalf of Donald Trump, who treats them like a ventriloquist’s dummy,” he later added.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Republicans transformed the House into a “puppet show.”
“Today we are on the floor of the House, where the other side has turned this body, this chamber — where slavery was abolished, where Medicare and social security and everything were instituted — they’ve turned it into a puppet show. A puppet show,” she said during debate on the floor Wednesday.
Pelosi, who endorsed Schiff in his Senate race, was seated next to her colleague from California during a portion of Wednesday’s vote.
“And you know what?” Pelosi added, “the puppeteer, Donald Trump, is shining a light on the strings. You look miserable.”
Luna, for her part, disputed the claim that Republicans were bringing the Schiff resolution because of Trump.
“If we want to talk about these little, fun games and comments back and forth, we’re here not about Donald Trump, we’re not here about Jan. 6, we’re here about the former chairman of the Intelligence Committee that used a lie that broke apart this country,” Luna said during debate.
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