FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (R-CA) talks to reporters after testimony from Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire about the handling of the whistleblower complaint on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday escalated his attacks against the lawmaker leading the impeachment inquiry against him, suggesting that Representative Adam Schiff be arrested for “treason.”
The comment is likely to inflame criticism of Trump’s handling of the scandal engulfing his presidency, stemming from a telephone call in which Trump asked Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son.
The telephone call was included in an intelligence officer’s whistleblower complaint that raised concerns about whether the president sought to leverage U.S. aid to Ukraine for a political favor.
“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. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
Trump appeared to reference statements made by Schiff during a hearing held by the House Intelligence Committee, of which Schiff is the chairman. Schiff said his remarks parodied Trump’s comments on the call with Zelenskiy.
The Republican president has increasingly lashed out at political opponents since House Democrats announced on Tuesday they would pursue an impeachment inquiry.
He likened the whistleblower and White House officials who gave information to the whistleblower to spies and suggested they committed treason.
The inspector general for the director of national intelligence deemed the whistleblower complaint credible and urgent, while the top U.S. intelligence officer said the whistleblower acted in good faith.
Reporting by Makini Brice and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Catherine Evans and Chizu Nomiyama