U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday escalated his attacks against the Democratic lawmaker leading the impeachment inquiry against him, suggesting on Twitter that House intelligence committee chair Adam Schiff be arrested for “treason.”
The comment is likely to inflame criticism of Trump’s handling of the scandal engulfing his presidency, stemming from a telephone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son.
The telephone call was included in an intelligence officer’s whistleblower complaint that raised concerns about whether the president sought to leverage U.S. aid to Ukraine for a political favour.
“Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?” Trump wrote in the tweet about the California representative.
The Republican president has increasingly lashed out at political opponents since House Democrats announced on Tuesday they would pursue an impeachment inquiry.
He likened the whistleblower and White House officials who gave information to the whistleblower to spies, and suggested they committed treason.
The inspector general for the director of national intelligence deemed the whistleblower complaint credible and urgent, while the top U.S. intelligence officer said the whistleblower acted in good faith.
Ukraine unlikely to publish transcript
Meanwhile, Zelensky said on Monday that Kyiv was unlikely to publish its version of a transcript of the July 25 phone call with Trump.
Speaking to journalists at an event at a military site near Ukraine’s capital on Monday, Zelensky said he felt it would be wrong to share the Ukrainian summary or transcript of the call.
“Prior to the presidency I was never a diplomat, but I think I have had many such conversations in my life and will have many more,” Zelensky said.
“There are certain nuances and things which I think it would be incorrect, even, to publish.”
Asked whether Kyiv would open an investigation into the claims against Joe Biden and his son Hunter, per Trump’s request, Zelensky said Kyiv would not act solely on the orders of other countries.
“We can’t be commanded to do anything. We are an independent country,” Zelensky said.
“We are open, we are ready to investigate [but] it has nothing to do with me. Our independent law enforcement agencies are ready to investigate any case in which the law was broken.”