Donald Trump took his feud with House intelligence chair Adam Schiff to a new level on Monday morning.
In a dubious sequel to a series of Sunday evening tweets demanding Schiff be tried for “treason” for the “crime” of paraphrasing parts of the controversial call with Volodymyr Zelensky, the president threatened to have Schiff arrested.
“Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people”, Trump declared, distorting the situation beyond recognition. “Arrest for Treason?”, he then asked.
This is arguably the closest Trump has come to suggesting that he may unilaterally persecute political rivals and otherwise attempt to stamp out dissent by rounding up opponents and conducting sham trials.
Republicans will now be compelled to spend the next 24 hours going on the record to disavow Trump’s threat.
You can be sure the president’s tweet will be cited in impeachment proceedings, along with his Sunday evening remarks, which again suggested he’s prepared to have government officials executed for giving information to the whistle-blower who penned the complaint at the heart of the Ukraine scandal.
Trump’s spat with Schiff goes back quite a ways.
Schiff played spoiler to Devin Nunes’s tireless efforts to shield the president from the Mueller probe and when the House flipped to Democrats after the midterms (relegating Nunes to second fiddle on the committee), Trump knew there was trouble ahead.
On November 18, he made up a new nickname for Schiff: “Little Adam Schitt”.
The absurdity didn’t stop there.
Four months later, during his first post-Mueller rally, the president maligned Schiff at a raucous event at Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here is the clip:
Days later, the official Trump-Pence website began selling T-shirts featuring Schiff’s head impaled on a pencil.
This, apparently, is America.