Trump defense team signals focus on Schiff

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BY JOHN KRUZEL  |  THE HILL

At several points during their opening argument, President Trump’s defense team trained their fire on Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), removing any doubt about their intent to make the House manager’s credibility an issue at the impeachment trial.

Addressing the Senate on Saturday, Trump’s lawyers accused Schiff of repeatedly stretching the truth and creating false impressions amid his pursuit to take down the president.

“Chairman Schiff has made so much of the House’s case about the credibility of interpretations that the House managers want to place on — not hard evidence — but on inferences,” said Patrick Philbin, deputy counsel to Trump.

“It is very relevant to know whether assessments of evidence he’s presented in the past are accurate,” Philbin said of Schiff. “And we would submit they have not been, and that that is relevant for your consideration.”

The defense team portrayed Schiff as having first launched his overreaching efforts against Trump during former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and continuing through Trump’s impeachment trial.

The attacks on Schiff were perhaps unsurprising, as the House Intelligence Committee chairman has emerged as the lead prosecutor among House managers pressing the case against Trump in the Senate.

In fact, Schiff anticipated the offensive and delivered a warning to senators last night that spelled out specific attacks he expected to be lodged against him, some of which materialized Saturday.

“I think the second thing you’ll hear from the president’s team is, attack the managers. Those managers are just awful. They’re terrible people,” Schiff said. “Especially that Schiff guy. He’s the worst. He’s the worst.”

Schiff’s prediction earned him smiles from some Senate Republicans, notably Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has praised the congressman during the proceedings, despite his nearly assured vote for Trump’s acquittal.

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