Democrat Adam Schiff became only the third member of the House of Representatives to be censured this century for pushing claims that former president Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia.
There were chaotic scenes in the House following a vote on whether to censure the California representative, with the resolution passed 213-209 – every Republican voted for it except for six who voted “present,” and every Democrat voted against it. After the result of the vote was announced by Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Democrats gathered on the floor and chanted “shame” and “disgrace” as McCarthy struggled to regain order.
Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota, could be heard calling the Speaker a “spiteful coward” and accusing him of “weak leadership”, before McCarthy, after several whacks of his gavel, finally asked Schiff to present himself in the well of the House. The 63-year-old was clapped and cheered by his fellow Democrats as he made his way to the well. He then stood in the well and was hugged and cheered by dozens of his fellow party members who surrounded him.
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It was the second time the House tried to pass a resolution censuring Schiff from Representative Anna Paulina Luna, of Florida. The first one failed because it recommended a fine against Schiff of $16 million, which the Democrats and 20 Republicans opposed.
That language was removed and so the resolution was able to pass on a party-line vote, which Luna said was needed to fight back against Schiff’s “lies” about Trump.
“As chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff launched an all-out political campaign built on baseless distortions against a sitting US president, at the expense of every single citizen in this country and the honour of the House of Representatives,” Luna said before the vote.
“With access to sensitive information unavailable to most members of Congress and certainly not accessible to the American people, Schiff abused his privileges, claiming to know the truth while leaving Americans in the dark about his web of lies… lies so severe that they altered the course of the country forever.”
On the House floor, Schiff was able to make his own defence.
“To my Republican colleagues who introduced this resolution, I thank you. You honour me with your enmity, you flatter me with this falsehood,” Schiff said.
“You, who are the authors of a big lie about the last election, must condemn the truth tellers. And I stand proudly before you.
“Your words tell me that I have been effective in the defence of our democracy, and I am grateful.”
The vote is not the first time Republicans have used their majority to target Schiff. McCarthy pulled Schiff off the Intelligence Committee earlier this year for promoting claims that the 2016 Trump campaign was working with Russia, an allegation that was never proven.