So much for Mr. Nice Guy!
California Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Hollywood) isn’t waiting around anymore to see if California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is 89 years old, will seek a sixth term when her current one expires next year. Because “democracy is under assault from MAGA extremists,” Schiff said the Golden State and the country need him to run because “we are in the fight of our lives.”
Rep. Katie Porter, a Democrat from Orange County, announced her candidacy to succeed Feinstein two weeks ago. The next day, sources close to Rep. Barbara Lee said the veteran Bay Area politician would also run. Schiff has joined what is fast-becoming a crowded primary race.
Americans have come to know Schiff as one of Donald Trump’s most persistent critics in Congress.
As chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, he led the committee on such a partisan crusade to paint Trump as a Russian asset that Republicans on the committee, led by Devin Nunes, publicly dissented in a rare split on a national security question. Claim by claim, Schiff has been refuted by nearly every new revelation of fact.
Republican leadership in the current Congress stripped Schiff of his membership on the HPSCI this week because, as Speaker Kevin McCarthy wrote in a letter formally announcing the move, “it is my assessment that the misuse of this panel during the 116th and 117th Congresses severely undermined its primary national security and oversight missions – ultimately leaving our nation less safe.”
Schiff also leaned into his role as impeachment manager in 2019, charging Trump with “abuse of power” (which is not an actual statutory violation) and obstruction of Congress. Schiff’s staff on the HPSCI allegedly counseled the CIA source behind those allegations on how to become a “whistleblower,” in a slightly different spin on the fabled Hollywood casting couch. The Senate declined to convict the former president on those charges.
Last year, Schiff again sought the spotlight on the made-for-television January 6th select committee. Having once tried to become a screenwriter, the camera happy congressman with the perpetually bewildered expression has run out of panels on which to inveigh against Trump, the Los Angeles congressman is now seeking a promotion.
Together with the two congresswomen likely running, Schiff seems to be assuming that Feinstein, widely seen to be in decline, will bow to the mounting pressure not to run. It is a striking sign of disunity for Democrats in a state that boasts the world fifth-largest economy.
The other issue California Democrats will determine in next month’s primary is how popular politicians who focus almost solely on national issues remain in a state with rising crime, and an uptick in natural disasters. For a man who made his career in opposing Trump at every opportunity, should the former president not be the GOP frontrunner next year, the relevance of Schiff evaporates altogether.
But for now, the silver lining in getting stripped of his HPSCI seat is that Schiff will have plenty of time for fundraising, and practicing his sharp elbows. Expect a race between the declared candidates to best each other in praising the liberal lioness Feinstein lest today’s bad manners be remembered on primary day.