U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., became the target of social media trolls and other critics – including Donald Trump Jr. – on Thursday for his abrupt reversal regarding when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should deliver articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate.
Early Thursday, Smith said he believed Pelosi was looking to establish negotiating leverage with the Senate by withholding the two articles of impeachment against President Trump, which the House approved last month. The articles charge the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in relation to a July phone call with the president of Ukraine.
But ultimately, Smith said, he believed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was in charge of the Senate and should determine that body’s course of action regarding a Trump impeachment trial.
“I think it was perfectly advisable for the speaker to try to leverage that to get a better deal,” Smith told CNN, but adding “at this point, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.”
“I think it is time to send the impeachment to the Senate and let Mitch McConnell be responsible for the fairness of the trial,” Smith said. “He ultimately is.”
But just a short time later, Smith posted on Twitter what seemed to be a complete reversal from the statements he made on TV.
“I misspoke this morning,” Smith wrote. “I do believe we should do everything we can to force the Senate to have a fair trial. If the Speaker believes that holding on to the articles for a longer time will help force a fair trial in the Senate, then I wholeheartedly support that decision.”
Critics quickly took note of the sudden retreat by Smith, the 54-year-old chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and suggested that perhaps he was surrendering to pressure from Democratic Party leaders.
“Hahahaha someones not allowed to think for himself and got in trouble for breaking with Nancy’s narrative,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote. “This has been the problem with the sham impeachment from day one, no one actually believes this BS except for the lunatic fringe who have hijacked the whole Democratic party.”
“Bang bang Nancy’s silver hammer went down on Adam Smith’s head …” political commentator Doug Heye wrote, alluding to an old Beatles song.
Smith’s flip-flop wasn’t playing well in his home state, either.
“He has no courage of his convictions, and had to deny his own words an hour later,” said Dori Monson, host of a Seattle radio show, according to MyNorthwest.com.
Later, Smith tried to clarify his remarks during an appearance on Monson’s program.
“All I was saying was, ‘At the end of the day, we can’t force the Senate any more than they can force us,'” Smith told Monson, according to MyNorthwest.com. “‘We have to try to leverage them and persuade them.'”
Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this story.