Schiff's role in Trump impeachment trial draws usual fire, but also unlikely praise

Sarah D. Wire and Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- House prosecutors began their second day of arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Thursday, as lead manager Rep. Adam B. Schiff drew some unexpected praise from Republicans for his steady performance so far during the hourslong, often tedious presentations.

"Good job," Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a staunch Trump ally and critic of the impeachment, told Schiff, a California Democrat, as they passed each other in the Capitol the previous evening. "Very well spoken."

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., told reporters Schiff has been "very eloquent" in presenting the case.

Schiff has long been a punching bag of Trump and of conservative media, particularly for his role leading the House impeachment investigation. And those attacks have continued this week on Twitter and Fox News. Trump on Wednesday said Schiff is a "corrupt politician," which made the kind words from Republicans stand out even more.

Schiff's final speech at the end of a lengthy Wednesday session laying out the timeline of the Ukraine scandal had Republican senators rapt, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said.

"Schiff had such power in his speech that he almost forced (Republicans) to listen," Schumer said.


Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., disputed that, saying Schiff "comes across as pretty smooth" but is a "known liar."

"He's very smooth, very slick, but I take everything he says with a grain of salt," Johnson said.

The praise from Graham was noteworthy since the South Carolinian built a name and national reputation as a House manager during the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial, something Schiff no doubt would not mind emulating. On the other hand, Schiff knows well the risks. He was elected to the House in 2000 by defeating Rep. Jim Rogan, another House manager during the Clinton impeachment whose role in the trial backfired on Election Day.

Thursday's potentially eight-hour argument is expected to focus on the House impeachment article related to abuse of power, and what Democrats describe as Trump's scheme to use investigations in Ukraine to tip the 2020 election in his favor.


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