Adam Schiff Says Donald Trump Wants to Make Impeachment a 'Circus,' Rejects Calls to Testify

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said it's "absurd" that he or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would testify in a Senate trial, "because Donald Trump thinks it's a good rhetorical attack."

Schiff spoke with Firing Line host Margaret Hoover in an interview that aired on Friday, and ripped on Republicans for blindly following anything Trump has tried to do to disrupt the impeachment process. In a December 5 tweet, the president claimed "We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is." Schiff rejected the idea of himself testifying before the Senate as a fact witness as "absurd."

.@MargaretHoover asked @RepAdamSchiff if he would testify at the Senate trial if called. Schiff deflects, saying the demand for his testimony is “absurd.” "Donald Trump thinks it's a good rhetorical attack" and wants to “make a circus” of impeachment, says Schiff.

— Firing Line with Margaret Hoover (@FiringLineShow) December 20, 2019

"There's no basis to call me as a witness and I think even [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell and the Republicans have recognized that," Schiff told Hoover. "The only reason to even put me on a list is because Donald Trump thinks it's a good rhetorical attack. He also wants to call the Speaker of the House, I mean it's absurd."

But Schiff noted there are "too many Republicans" willing to go along with anything Trump says, no matter how absurd. He specifically called out Senators Lindsey Graham and Ron Johnson, accusing them of purely doing Trump's bidding.

"These are people who have had conversations, in the case of the senators, with thepresident about Ukraine, about withholding of military aid. And we didn't seek to call them in the House Intelligence Committee. We didn't want to make a circus out of it. Of course, the president's interest is in the circus," Schiff added.

Schiff said Republicans want to ridicule him and they want to identify and castigate the whistleblower.

"No, the reason they would like to call me as a witness is just to have a chance to attack me. Nothing more," Schiff said. I don't know who the whistleblower is, so I don't add much value in terms of the whistleblower. The reason they want the whistleblower on their witness list is they want to out the whistleblower. They want to punish the whistleblower. And in so doing they will endanger the whistleblower."

Schiff said that the only thing worse than a failed impeachment would have been no impeachment of the president at all. He expressed concern that "corruption in the Oval Office" would hit new highs if McConnell and the Senate give Trump a free pass.

"I'll have to amend what I said a little earlier in terms of there being nothing worse than a failed impeachment, and that is no impeachment at all when the president believes that he is above the law, no accountability at all. Ultimately if the Republicans failed to live up to their constitutional duty, it doesn't relieve us of our obligation to do our duty," Schiff said.

Schiff said he doesn't know that it's within the Congress' power to convince Trump against cheating in the upcoming 2020 election. But he said the impeachment inquiry was important because "he cannot be permitted to continue this kind of misconduct."

"[Trump] did feel that he had complete license after Mueller testified to do whatever he wanted to to be above the law," Schiff continued. "And we have to show the president he is not above the law. He is accountable. Any president is, regardless of party. I would hope that if this were Barack Obama and he had committed half these acts that I would be out there urging his impeachment. It shouldn't be any different for my Republican colleagues that this is a Republican president."

Adam Schiff and Donald Trump
Adam Schiff rejected Trump's calls for him to testify, saying it would only be used for Republicans to attack him personally. MANDEL NGAN / Pool/Getty