Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 24, 2017. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite, AP)
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Twitter Sunday crudely mocked a California Democratic congressman who will likely be taking over the House Intelligence Committee next year.
“So funny to see little Adam Schitt (D-CA) talking about the fact that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was not approved by the Senate, but not mentioning the fact that Bob Mueller (who is highly conflicted) was not approved by the Senate!” the president said in a tweet Sunday.
Schiff has long been a thorn in Trump’s side for his work related to Russian election meddling and his assertion that there is “plenty of evidence” tying Trump to their activities.
So funny to see little Adam Schitt (D-CA) talking about the fact that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was not approved by the Senate, but not mentioning the fact that Bob Mueller (who is highly conflicted) was not approved by the Senate!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2018
“Wow, Mr. President, that’s a good one,” he replied to Trump’s tweet. “Was that like your answers to Mr. Mueller’s questions, or did you write this one yourself?”
Schiff was referring to the written answers Trump said he is about to submit to a series of questions from special counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump’s tweet was apparently in response to Schiff’s Sunday appearance on ABC’s “This Week” in which he said Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions is “unconstitutional.” Schiff said the attorney is “clearly a principal officer” in the administration and should have to be confirmed by the Senate.
Whitaker has been an outspoken critic of Mueller’s investigation in the past and Democrats have cited his apparent bias against the special counsel as another reason he is unsuitable to head the Justice Department. Because of his public statements, Democrats have called for him to recuse himself from the investigation.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has proposed tying legislation protecting Mueller from any interference by Whitaker to the next government spending bill. And outgoing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake pledged to block federal judges until such legislation is brought to the Senate for a vote.
Wow, Mr. President, that’s a good one.
Was that like your answers to Mr. Mueller’s questions, or did you write this one yourself? https://t.co/Yd27sayt7C
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) November 18, 2018
The president seemed to imply that if Whitaker required Senate approval then so should Mueller, who was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate Russian election interference. But legal experts have pointed out that attorney general is a senior, Cabinet-level position, while special counsel is not and therefore not subject to the same approval process.
On Nov. 9, Trump made the same point when reporters said Whitaker had not been through the Senate process.
“Yeah, but neither has Mueller,” he said. “Excuse me, you talk about the Senate process. Mueller is doing a report. He hasn’t gone through the Senate process.”