U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday called for the Democratic lawmaker leading the impeachment probe against him to be tried for treason, a crime punishable by death.
Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, opened a congressional hearing last week by mimicking the president speaking like a mob boss to pressure Ukraine’s leader to probe rival Joe Biden.
The impersonation was intended to dramatize Schiff’s contention that Trump’s July 25 phone call to Volodymyr Zelensky was a classic mafia-like shakedown – but insensed Trump.
Trump denounced it on Twitter as a “FAKE & terrible statement,” saying Schiff “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?”
Quoting a controversial evangelical pastor, Trump suggested in a tweet Sunday night that mass bloodshed would break out if he were removed from office.
“If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal,” he tweeted.
A day after quoting a radical cleric threatening civil war, the president demanded the arrest of an opposing party leader, who is currently leading an investigation into whether the president engaged in an act of extortion in an attempt to neutralize a rival for the presidency.
— Adam Serwer???? (@AdamSerwer) September 30, 2019
The president’s recent tweets have stirred outrage, with some suggesting they are in themselves a cause for him to be removed from office.
“This tweet is itself an independent basis for impeachment – a sitting president threatening civil war if Congress exercises its constitutionally authorized power,” John Coates, a Harvard Law professor, wrote on Twitter on Monday.
Last week, Trump also implied that officials who provided information to the whistleblower who initially voiced concerns over Trump’s call with Zelensky should be executed for treason, likening them to a “spy.”
“I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,” Trump said.
“You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
Trump faces an impeachment inquiry from the House of Representatives after he released a document showing that he asked Zelensky to help him get potentially damaging information about Biden, the current frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
It is illegal to solicit election assistance of any kind from a foreign individual.
Trump has also been accused of withholding aid to Ukraine in an attempt to pressure Zelensky to follow through with his request.
Reporting from AFP contributed to this article