It’s good for Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., that his prosecutor days are behind him, and that he’s now only playing one on TV as House manager for the impeachment. He’s enjoyed putting on a show for the cameras, pretending to be a brave civil servant prosecuting President Trump for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But if he behaved in a real courtroom the way he has since Democrats’ crusade against the president began, a court would sanction him and throw him off the case, and his law license could be taken away.
From the very beginning of the impeachment charade, Schiff has injected himself and his own personal hatred into what is meant to be a rare, solemn, and bipartisan process, all while pantomiming the restrained, professional behavior of an officer of the court. He’s blatantly lied, in the committee room and in public, about the evidence we've seen, ranging from a series of breathtaking whoppers regarding now-discredited surveillance warrants to fictionalizing the content of the president’s call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.
Schiff repeatedly refused to allow cross-examination of his supposed witnesses — including the “whistleblower” who, by his own admission, holds no first-hand knowledge of the facts in question. (Where are those whistleblower transcripts, by the way? Suppressed by Schiff.) Worst of all, he’s had access to evidence and knowledge that casts doubt on his entire contrived corruption narrative, and he’s prevented the president and Republicans from using it in their defense.
If the U.S. attorney or district attorney in charge of Schiff’s office didn’t have the good sense to remove such a prosecutor from trying a case, a judge would do it for them. Even if he were the head prosecutor, he might well be referred to the state bar for disciplinary charges.
Making things up, trying to railroad the defendant, manipulate the jury, bias the outcome, suppressing evidence, procuring false evidence, tampering with evidence – any one of these things can and do get prosecutors disbarred. Just ask Mike Nifong, the North Carolina district attorney overseeing the now-infamous 2006 Duke lacrosse rape case.
Like Schiff, Nifong took a thin and implausible case, based on the accusation of a troubled young woman, and twisted it to nearly destroy the lives of three innocent Duke lacrosse players. He tried parading them in front of the country as brutal, privileged rapists, while presenting himself as the champion of the voiceless, a lone defender of justice.
Like Schiff, Nifong viewed the defendants in his case as merely a means to further his own fame and political career, going on a TV-talking-head-spree like an early precursor to Schiff. He exploited a tense political situation around racial division and campus sexual assault the same way Schiff is exploiting political polarization in America today.
And like Schiff, Nifong messed up. He got caught. Remember when Schiff had to ridiculously claim he didn’t know the identity of the whistleblower, despite his office advising him on how to come forward with his conspiracy theory about the president’s phone call with Zelensky? Nifong had to claim he didn’t have the DNA evidence to show the Duke kids were innocent, despite the fact that he had worked with the crime lab director to withhold it.
The difference is that, because he was a real prosecutor, Nifong paid for his actions when he was caught. Evidence that can exonerate defendants in a criminal case is called “Brady material.” Withholding it is a classic example of prosecutorial misconduct. Nifong was brought up on ethics charges, resigned from his office, and was forced to surrender his law license. For good measure, he then spent a day in jail for contempt of court. Schiff’s sentence for his Pinocchio behavior? More time on cable news.
From the start, this entire impeachment process has been political and illegitimate. Impeachment is always inherently political, but the denial of due process to the president is historic.
Schiff is not a prosecutor. He’s a politician, and ultimately the only price he’ll pay for his utter contempt of the Constitution and the public trust is the political hit that he will take when the president is speedily acquitted in the Senate.
From the start, this entire impeachment process has been political and illegitimate. Impeachment is always inherently political, but the denial of due process to the president is historic. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., miffed by Democratic New York Rep. Jerry Nadler’s lackluster showmanship in the House Russiagate hearings, delegated the hastily conjured impeachment process to Schiff, who has made a mockery of the role of a prosecutor.
Schiff is the one who solicited evidence, colluded with “witnesses” who were anything but, suppressed evidence that would be Brady material in a court of law, lied to his own “grand jury” by falsely mimicking the president, and went on television to poison the “jury pool” of senators with his running commentary, lies and pressure tactics. He’s never been held accountable for his daily shredding of the Constitution he swore to uphold, and he probably never will be, given the far-left district he represents in Los Angeles County.
Courts and bar associations come down hard on lying, cheating, feckless prosecutors not only because they fail to uphold their duties to the defendant and to the courts, but also because they undermine public confidence in the system of justice itself. What Schiff is doing is a million times worse, because every American is watching this charade and seeing a lawyer with power misbehave and make a mockery of our ultimate law, the Constitution. His disgraceful performance will permanently mar our civic fabric and people’s confidence in fair trials, due process, equal protection of the laws.
Only the voters in Schiff’s district can hold him accountable – but his misconduct leaves a stain on Nancy Pelosi’s legacy as speaker of the house, and on the Democratic Party, whose leaders’ zeal to overturn the results of the 2016 election have blinded them to the maxim that a prosecutor’s first job is to do justice, not rack up indictments regardless of merit.