During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Schiff was asked if he viewed Trump’s tweet that “he has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!” as a threat. Schiff responded, “I think it’s intended to be.” Trump’s Twitter attack on Schiff was one of several the President launched online Sunday against Democrats and his Senate impeachment trial.
Later Sunday, Trump — who often tweets and retweets attacks on people he feels have wronged him — also insulted “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd who conducted the earlier interview with Schiff.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Sunday admonished the public for putting “meaning behind” what the President says and said Trump was not threatening Schiff.
“I think that people, and this has been a theme actually throughout this process, people put meanings behind what he says,” Grisham said in an interview on Fox News. “The President speaks in a very unique way, he’s a counterpuncher, he’s saying what it’s on his mind.”
Pressed on what the President meant, Grisham said she hadn’t yet talked to Trump about his tweet, but said she thinks Trump meant Schiff “hasn’t paid the price with voters, he hasn’t paid the price yet with the people of this country who see that he’s been lying and very obsessed.”
Schiff defends impeachment argument
In concluding the House’s opening argument Friday evening, Schiff, a California Democrat and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, delivered a lengthy argument for removing the President from office on the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
“The offensive part is there is he was saying that the President had communicated to us that our heads will be on a pike if we oppose him, and all of us looked at each other and we have heard no such comment from the President,” Lankford said.
Schiff told Todd that he was making an argument that it is going to be very difficult for senators to stand up to Trump.
“And I think I have to be very candid about this … I made the argument that it’s going to require moral courage to stand up to this President,” he said. “And this is a wrathful and vindictive President. I don’t think there’s any doubt about it and if you think there is, look at the President’s tweets about me today, saying that I should pay a price.”
‘I think it was a huge mistake’
Trump’s legal team, he said, “basically acknowledged the scheme” — and that its main argument was “you don’t need a fair trial here,” adding that there was no “exoneration” if the country was deprived of a fair trial.
“I was surprised. I think it was a huge mistake… they go and double down on that same crazy conspiracy theory that Ukraine hacked the DNC server. It’s astonishing,” Schiff said. “On the first day of the President’s defense, to say that the President should disbelieve his own intelligence agencies, has every right to believe (Russian President) Vladimir Putin. I wouldn’t want to make that argument.”
The President’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow has signaled that the defense team is likely to go after former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as the Russia investigation into the President and the opposition research dossier from ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele.
The President’s team is delivering its presentation as White House and Senate GOP sources have told CNN they are confident they will defeat a vote next week for additional witnesses that would extend the trial. But there were no mentions of the former vice president or his son Saturday.
Schiff, asked about a possible deal where Democrats and Republicans would both call the witnesses they want in order to have trial testimony, said he believes the President “has the right to call relevant witnesses…in his defense,” but he made clear he did not believe that Hunter Biden is a “relevant witness.”
“If we’re talking about a fair trial…. (Senators) can’t say, ‘Well, we’re going to allow the President to trade witnesses that don’t shed any light on the facts, but would allow him to once again try to smear his opponent,” Schiff said.
“Hunter Biden can’t tell us anything about the withholding of military funding. Hunter Biden can’t tell us why the President wouldn’t let the President if Ukraine into the Oval office. Hunter Biden can’t tell us anything about that,” he added.
This story has been updated with comment from White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
CNN’s Nikki Carvajal, Jeremy Herb, Betsy Klein and Manu Raju contributed to this report.