Adam Schiff is corrupt

Adam Schiff - a prosecutor takes on America's most powerful man

Once he hunted criminals, now he wants to hunt down President Trump: The Democrat Adam Schiff heads the impeachment investigation of the House of Representatives. With the first public hearing on the Ukraine affair, he finally stepped into the limelight.

When the cameras of the major American television stations broadcast the first public hearing in the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump across the country this Wednesday, it is not just the witnesses that are in the spotlight. Much also depends on the man in the middle of the Members' rostrum - Adam Schiff. The California Democrat is leading the impeachment investigation and is expected to file a report to the House of Representatives next month, which will be used to rule on an indictment.

Schiff has thus become the public face of an investigation that Trump regularly branded as a witch hunt. He covers no other politician of the Democratic Party with as many insults as the 59-year-old chairman of the intelligence committee. He denigrates it as corrupt, as a “disaster of lies” and as a shame for the country, makes fun of the ship's exterior (“pencil neck”) and prefers to dub it with the dirty name “Shifty Schiff” (crafty ship). If everything is not mistaken, however, this furore is a sign that the president sees him as a serious opponent.

Image of the sober prosecutor

The contrast between the two, in style and content, could hardly be greater. Schiff cultivates the image of a civil servant who always argues calmly and calmly. In the past few weeks, he has presented the allegations against Trump in the Ukraine affair pointedly, but without exaggerated polemics. It just so happened that the investigation was being led by a former prosecutor - Schiff worked in the Los Angeles branch of the federal prosecutor's office until he entered politics in the 1990s. He has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2001; he represents a wealthy constituency on the outskirts of Los Angeles that also includes Hollywood. His legal background - he holds degrees from Stanford and Harvard Universities - is proving to be helpful in explaining to the public the explosiveness of Trump's behavior in the affair.

For example, he has explained in simple terms why Trump's demand for a Ukrainian investigation into domestic rival Joe Biden could constitute an offense of corruption. The offer of an official act (the performance of military aid) in exchange for a favor (electoral assistance) is nothing other than bribery in this view. According to the American Constitution, the latter is one of those crimes that justify impeachment.

Behind the facade of the charmingly smiling MP, however, a dogged party-political trench warrior flashes out again and again. Schiff makes no secret of his contempt for the president, and he also punishes his Republican colleagues on the intelligence committee with disdain. A decade ago, this body was regarded as a haven for non-partisan cooperation, where rational arguments in the service of national security were decisive. However, Schiff and the senior Republican on the committee, Devin Nunes, are mad at each other. The chairman is not innocent of this; he lets the Republicans feel his power in a petty way, for example when the website of the Intelligence Committee only includes a tiny footnote link to the opinions of the committee minority.

Self-inflicted wounds

Schiff has also repeatedly made stupid mistakes in his political struggle. After initially claiming that his committee had no contact with the anonymous whistleblower who started the affair, he later had to correct himself. He also drew severe criticism when he summarized the evidence against Trump in a grossly misleading way in a committee meeting.

Still, with the Impeachment Study, its political star is clearly on the rise. Schiff enjoys the backing of speaker Nancy Pelosi, who behind the scenes made sure that the leading role is taken over by the secret service and not the justice committee. The latter is chaired by the idiosyncratic New Yorker Jerry Nadler, who doesn't always pull in the same direction with the speaker. Not only does Schiff like Pelosi come from California, he also enjoys a certain closeness to her because she herself once made a career on the secret service committee. Like Pelosi, Schiff belongs to that wing of the Democratic Party that has long warned against rash impeachment proceedings. Since the outbreak of the Ukraine affair, however, he has vehemently supported the demand for Trump's removal. The party's expectation rests on his shoulders that he will be able to turn the public spectacle of weeks of hearings into a sharp weapon against the president.