Rep. Adam Schiff
Rep. Adam Schiff was stunned when he read the summary of Trump’s July 2019 Ukraine call.
“Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit,” Schiff kept repeating as he read the memo, he writes in his memoir.
Schiff said the reaction in his office was a “chorus of expletives and biblical references.”
California Rep. Adam Schiff was nearly stunned speechless when the White House released a memo of then-President Donald Trump’s July 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked Zelensky to “do us a favor” and launch political investigations targeting the Bidens.
The White House released the call summary on September 25, 2019, one day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the chamber was opening an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s efforts to strongarm the Ukrainian government into aiding his reelection.
Schiff, the chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee, was leading the impeachment inquiry. In his new memoir, “Midnight In Washington,” the California Democrat writes that he was in his office in the SCIF, a secure facility used to review classified materials, when one of his senior staffers yelled that the memo had been released.
The staffer, Rheanne Wirkkala, brought Schiff a copy of the call summary, which the White House had sent to Congress at the same time it was released publicly.
“I muted the TVs, and before I knew it, five or six of my staff had gathered in my small office to read their copies along with me,” Schiff writes. “They stood around me, in front of my desk and to the side, transfixed, others gathering in the two doorways, peering in while frantically reading.”
“Holy shit,” Schiff said as he read through the first couple of pages, according to the book. One staff member exclaimed, “Oh my God,” while another blurted, “Jesus Christ.”
“We were all racing through the document, and it was a chorus of expletives and biblical references,” Schiff writes. At one point, someone asked another staffer if they’d gotten to page four of the summary, and the person replied, “No, I’m still trying to wrap my head around page two.”
“Do you see where Zelensky’s asking about the Javelins?” someone asked, referring to lethal defensive weapons Ukraine wanted to buy from the US. “‘I would like you to do us a favor, though’ – can you believe he said that?”
“As for me,” Schiff wrote, “I kept muttering the same thing, over and over. ‘Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit.’ And finally, ‘I can’t believe they would release this.'”
The July 25 phone call formed the basis of Trump’s first impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. While the president claimed it was a “perfect” phone call and that there was “no quid pro quo” with Ukraine, Democrats and most national security experts said the call – and Trump’s actions surrounding it – clearly demonstrated his expectation that Ukraine cater to his personal, political demands in exchange for vital military aid.
A slew of nonpartisan, career officials also testified to Schiff’s committee about Trump’s months-long effort to force Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and a bogus conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election, and that it did so to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Trump, for his part, maintains that he was the target of a politically motivated witch hunt by the Democratic-controlled House, which voted to impeach him along party lines in December 2019. The GOP-controlled Senate acquitted him in early 2020, with Utah Sen. Mitt Romney casting the lone Republican vote to convict Trump on the abuse of power charge.
Trump was impeached for a second time in January over his role in the deadly Capitol siege on a charge of incitement of insurrection. This time, ten House Republicans broke party lines and joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump. Following a Senate trial, seven Republicans voted with Democrats to convict Trump, but they failed to reach the two-thirds majority required in the chamber to remove him from office.