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House votes to censure Democratic congressman who led Trump investigations

<i>Julia Nikhinson/Reuters</i><br/>Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California is seen on Capitol Hill
Julia Nikhinson/Reuters
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California is seen on Capitol Hill

By Haley Talbot and Kristin Wilson, CNN

(CNN) — The US House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to censure Rep. Adam Schiff, a key lawmaker in Democrats’ congressional investigations into former President Donald Trump during his presidency.

The resolution accuses Schiff of misleading the American people while pursuing the congressional investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign as the then-chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and for actions Schiff took leading up to the former president’s first impeachment. Schiff has dismissed the allegations as “false and defamatory.”

The vote was 213-209 along party lines. Republican members of the House Ethics Committee – Michael Guest of Mississippi, Dave Joyce of Ohio, Andrew Garbarino of New York, John Rutherford of Florida and Michelle Fischbach of Minnesota – voted present. GOP Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado also voted present but he is not on the Ethics Committee.

As part of the censure procedure, Schiff stood in the well of the House floor, while House Speaker Kevin McCarthy repeatedly tried to read a brief rule about censure. Schiff was joined by his Democratic colleagues on the House floor who loudly cheered him on and repeatedly interrupted McCarthy.

The effort to censure Schiff, who is running for a US Senate seat in California, cleared a key procedural obstacle earlier Wednesday afternoon after a vote to kill the legislation failed.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, a Florida Republican, led the effort with a revamped measure on the House floor for his role in the Russia probe and investigating Trump after a similar measure she backed failed last week.

Luna announced Tuesday she has secured the number of votes needed to censure and refer him to the House Ethics Committee.

“I have called up my censure motion and will be bringing the vote to hold Adam Schiff accountable to the floor tomorrow,” Luna tweeted Tuesday night.

The original resolution put forward by Luna failed last week after 20 Republicans voted to table the measure and two voted “present,” but after some tweaks made by Luna in consultation with GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, including axing a $16 million fine attached to the legislation, the measure has gained more support. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican who opposed the motion last week, told CNN on Tuesday that he in favor of the new version and is assisting Luna in her whip effort.

Some House Republicans voted against last week over concern of constitutionality and fear it could spark a tit-for-tat. Several House Republicans that voted to kill the resolution last week signaled they will support the new resolution, though several GOP lawmakers admitted to CNN they are concerned that the repeated attempts are boosting his fundraising for his Senate candidacy.

On Tuesday ahead of the vote, Schiff called the move “a badge of honor” and said, “They wouldn’t be going after me if they didn’t think I was effective.”

“Now Trump is threatening to primary any Republican that doesn’t vote for it. It shows you just who is behind this whole effort to distract from Trump’s legal problems is Trump,” Schiff told CNN. “But to waste the floors time on this false and defamatory resolution is a disservice to the country.”

While serving as chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff announced a sweeping investigation in February 2019 into then-President Trump’s finances and Russia.

Schiff also served as the lead House impeachment manager during Trump’s first impeachment. In that role, Schiff and the other impeachment managers detailed the House’s case for removing Trump from office at the Senate trial. The Senate ultimately voted to acquit.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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