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Trump takes aim at leading House Dem ahead of key vote

Donald Trump tweets attacking perceived foes are about as common as the sunrise, but his shot at Adam Schiff was a little different than most.
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on his way back to his office Jan. 28, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty)
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on his way back to his office Jan. 28, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Donald Trump tweets attacking perceived foes are about as common as the sunrise, but when the president took aim at House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) this morning, there was a little more to it than just random whining.

"Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!"

Let's quickly dispense with some of the more obvious problems with Trump's latest tweet. It's clear, for example, that the president is getting lazy when it comes to crafting derisive nicknames. For that matter, given Trump's track record of near-uncontrollable lying, he should probably steer clear of questioning others' honesty.

And if we're going to talk about people who leak classified information, we really ought to start with Donald Trump.

While we're at it, there's no reason that Americans should get accustomed to a sitting president casually accusing lawmakers, without proof, of committing felonies -- which is precisely what Trump did this morning to Schiff.

But it's the timing of the president's tweet that seems especially important, because when Trump wrote that Schiff "must be stopped," it's possible he was referring to something specific.

The Republicans' "Nunes memo" was released last week, landing with an unfortunate thud. What the public hasn't yet seen, however, is the 10-page response from Schiff and his Democratic colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee, offering a point-by-point refutation of the clumsy GOP document.

The Republican memo was cleared for release; the Democratic memo was not. That, however, may change today. The New York Times  reported:

As Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee backed away on Sunday from President Trump's claim that a newly released memo vindicates him in the Russia investigation, Democrats pressed for the release of their own classified rebuttal, with a vote expected on Monday on whether to make it public. [...]The Democratic document, if the Intelligence Committee votes to release it, would be subject to the same review by the president.

It's possible that the timing of Trump's tweet and today's vote are coincidental, but it's also possible that the president hoped to send a not-so-subtle message to his Republican allies on the House Intelligence Committee, telling them Schiff "must be stopped" before they vote on releasing a memo Schiff helped prepare.

Indeed, given the president's bizarre accusations this morning, there's a very real possibility that even if House Republicans grudgingly agree to let the public see the Democratic response, Trump will object to the memo's declassification.

Watch this space.