Trump whines about being unable to prosecute Adam Schiff

Image: Devin Nunes, Eric Swalwell, Jim Himes
From left, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., rear, and Rep. Eric...

Donald Trump welcomed Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales to the White House yesterday, and during a fairly brief photo-op in the Oval Office, a reporter asked the Republican whether he intended to watch today's impeachment proceedings in the House.

The American president's answer meandered a bit, before taking aim at one of Trump's favorite targets: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calf.).

"It's a total sham when you have a guy like Shifty Schiff go out and make up a statement that I've made. He said, 'This is what he said.' But I never said it. He totally made it up. In Guatemala, they handle things much more diff- -- much tougher than that."And because of immunity -- he has House immunity -- because of immunity, he can't be prosecuted. He -- he took a statement and totally made it up. It was a lie. It was a fraud. And you just can't do those things."

In case anyone's forgotten, a few months ago, during a congressional hearing, Schiff paraphrased Trump's phone meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. It was a clumsy misstep for the Intelligence Committee chairman, but it was also wholly unimportant and inconsequential.

Except in Trump's mind, the paraphrase is worthy of prosecution and incarceration in a Guatemalan prison. Indeed, the Republican seems to have somehow convinced himself that were it not for Schiff's paraphrasing, there would be no impeachment proceedings -- a belief that's truly bizarre, even for Trump.

Stepping back, it's always unsettling when Trump praises harsh foreign criminal-justice systems, which he does with some regularity. He suggested yesterday that Guatemala would be "tougher" with paraphrasing lawmakers than he can be -- as if that were some kind of flaw in the American model.

But just as striking was the American president's concerns about Schiff having the audacity to misquote him.

Consider yesterday's quote again: "He took a statement and totally made it up. It was a lie. It was a fraud. And you just can't do those things."

If people can't make up quotes, because it constitutes fraud, then Donald Trump may want to give a stern lecture to Donald Trump, because that guy routinely shares the details of conversations that occurred only in his imagination.

As failures of self-awareness go, this was a doozy.