Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) told the Senate that it would be wrong for a president to ask the Department of Justice to investigate a political rival. But Schiff defended then-President Barack Obama doing just that to then-candidate Donald Trump.
The remark came during the first of two days of questions and answers in President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.
Schiff was responding to a query osed by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), asking a hypothetical question about whether Obama would have had the authority to investigate suspected corruption by a son of Mitt Romney, Obama’s rival in his 2012 re-election campaign.
The lead House manager dismissed the hypothetical, then went on to argue that a president should not ask the DOJ to investigate a rival.
Counterintelligence investigations differ from criminal investigations in their means, scope and ultimate disposition. Their goal is not successful prosecutions, but to identify and mitigate threats to national security. If a foreign power possessed compromising information on a U.S. government official in a position of influence, that is a counterintelligence risk. If a foreign power possessed leverage, or the perception of it, over the president, that is a counterintelligence nightmare.
Later on, White House attorney Jay Sekulow noted that Trump had been a victim of exactly the kind of investigation that the Obama administration had initiated under Operation Crossfire Hurricane.
Author: Joel B. Pollak