WASHINGTON — The House has rejected an effort to censure California Rep. Adam Schiff, voting to turn aside a Republican attempt to fine the Democrat over his comments about former President Donald Trump and investigations into his ties to Russia.
Schiff, the former Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the lead prosecutor in Trump’s first impeachment trial, has long been a top Republican political target. Soon after taking back the majority this year, Republicans blocked him from sitting on the intelligence panel.
But Schiff was helped Wednesday by more than 20 Republicans who voted with Democrats to stop the censure resolution or voted “present,” denying Republicans the necessary votes.
The censure resolution from Republican Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, who was elected last year, says that Schiff held positions of power during Trump’s presidency and “abused this trust by saying there was evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.” Schiff was one of the most outspoken critics of the former president as both the Justice Department and the Republican-led House launched investigations into Trump’s ties to Russia in 2017.
“By repeatedly telling these falsehoods, Representative Schiff purposely deceived his Committee, Congress, and the American people,” the resolution says.
Special counsel Robert Mueller, who led the two-year Justice Department investigation, determined that Russia intervened on the campaign’s behalf and that Trump’s campaign welcomed the help. But Mueller’s team did not find that the campaign conspired to sway the election, and the Justice Department did not recommend any charges.
The congressional probe, launched by Republicans who were then in the majority, similarly found that Russia intervened in the election but that there was no evidence of a conspiracy. Schiff was the top Democrat on the panel at the time.
If the House had voted to censure him, Schiff would have stood in the front of the chamber while the text of the resolution was read. The resolution would have also sought to fine him $16 million — what Luna said is half the cost of the Mueller probe — if it had been determined by the ethics panel that Schiff “lied, made misrepresentations and abused sensitive information.”
Schiff, who is running for the U.S. Senate in his liberal home state of California, was defiant.
“We will never back down,” he said in a letter to his colleagues Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Schiff told reporters that the censure resolution was “red meat” that Speaker Kevin McCarthy is throwing to his conference amid squabbles over government spending. Republicans are trying to show their fealty to Trump, Schiff said.
“Their problem with me is they think I’m effective,” Schiff said. “They don’t go after people they are not afraid of.”
Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.