Delivering the opening remarks at the impeachment trial of President Trump, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) evoked the founding fathers to put impeachment in historical context. Schiff said that Alexander Hamilton had cautioned that a public official unfit for public office may one day get elected to “pursue his own interests.”
“When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the ability of military habits — despotic in his ordinary demeanor — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government and bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day — It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind,’” Schiff quoted Hamilton, saying that Trump “has acted precisely as Hamilton and his contemporaries feared.”
In making his argument, Schiff also played a video of the president publicly asking Ukraine and China to interfere in the U.S. election. And, he warned that if Trump is not convicted and removed, his “abuse of his office and obstruction of Congress will permanently alter the balance of power among our branches of government, inviting future presidents to operate as if they, too, are also beyond the reach of accountability, congressional oversight, and the law.”
The speech was praised by former attorney general Eric Holder as “superb,” and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called it one of the best he’s heard since entering Congress, according to Bloomberg reporter Steven Dennis. The hashtag #AdamSchiffROCKS also started to trend on Twitter.
But, no matter how artfully Schiff or any of the Democrats present their arguments, all this speechmaking is almost certainly falling on deaf Republican ears. According to reports from the chamber, a number of Republican senators were literally waiting by the exits for the speech to end, according to Politico reporter Sarah Harris, and many Republicans along with a handful of Democrats left the Senate chamber 10 minutes before Schiff concluded, saying, in part: “We all, Democrats and Republicans alike, must ask ourselves whether our loyalty is to our party or whether it is to our constitution.”