Rep. Adam Schiff should plant a big wet kiss on Kevin McCarthy for giving Schiff’s campaign for the U.S. Senate a big boost.
McCarthy, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, presided last week over a 213-209, partyline vote to censure Schiff for his strenuous efforts to investigate and even impeach former President Donald Trump when Democrats controlled the House.
“Adam Schiff launched an all-out political campaign built on baseless distortions against a sitting U.S. president,” Florida Congresswoman Anna Luna, the sponsor of the censure, declared. She accused him of engaging in “falsehoods, misrepresentations and abuses of sensitive information” as he sought to unearth connections between Trump and Russia.
An earlier version of Luna’s censure resolution would have imposed a multimillion-dollar fine on Schiff, but McCarthy and other leaders balked at that measure, forcing Luna to remove the fine before bringing the measure to the floor.
Schiff responded in kind after the vote.
“To my Republican colleagues who introduced this resolution: I thank you,” Schiff said. “You honor me with your enmity. You flatter me with this falsehood. You, who are the authors of a big lie about the last election, must condemn the truth tellers, and I stand proudly before you.
“Donald Trump is under indictment for actions that jeopardize our national security and McCarthy would spend the nation’s time on petty political payback, thinking he can censure or fine Trump’s opposition into submission,” Schiff added. “But I will not yield. Not one inch.”
Referring to Luna’s earlier version that could have imposed the heavy fine, Schiff quipped that Republicans “might as well make it $160 million. You will never deter me from doing my duty.”
Censure Gives Schiff Powerful Talking Point
Not only did the censure “honor me with your enmity,” as Schiff crowed, but it gave him a powerful new talking point as he seeks to succeed U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in next year’s election.
Having been such a thorn in Trump’s side that he earned a rare censure vote, Schiff can argue to Democratic voters that he’s exactly the kind of political warrior deeply blue California should have in the Senate.
The censure measure also directs the House ethics committee to investigate Schiff’s conduct as he led investigations of Trump, thus giving him even more opportunities to burnish his status as an anti-Trump stalwart.
Schiff, who represents a Los Angeles County congressional district, will face at least two House colleagues in the duel for the seat Feinstein is giving up after three decades in the Senate, Orange County’s Katie Porter and Barbara Lee of Oakland, and none has established frontrunner status.
Early polling has Schiff and Porter in the teens among potential voters and Lee trailing. Schiff, however, is well ahead of both in fundraising after Porter spent more than $25 million last year to win a very narrow re-election battle.
Although there are few apparent ideological differences among the three, Schiff is seen as more of a centrist than his rivals, notwithstanding his anti-Trump crusading. Porter is a protégé of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s economic populism while long-serving Lee is an icon of the left for her stalwart anti-war positions.
Hanging over the three-way duel is the possibility that Feinstein, who turned 90 this month and has significant physical and mental health issues, will not complete the remaining 18 months of her term.
If there is a vacancy, Gov. Gavin Newsom would name a successor to fill out Feinstein’s term. He has said he would appoint a Black woman to any vacancy and Lee would qualify, but giving her the seat in the midst of a campaign would be politically tricky.
About the Author
Dan Walters has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, spending all but a few of those years working for California newspapers. He began his professional career in 1960, at age 16, at the Humboldt Times. For more columns by Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary.
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