As public hearings draw nearer, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff said that President Donald Trump’s possible impeachable offenses include bribery, The Hill reports.
“On the basis of what the witnesses have had to say so far, there are any number of potentially impeachable offenses, including bribery, including high crimes and misdemeanors,” Schiff said in an interview set to air Wednesday with NPR’s Steve Inskeep.
“The basic allegations against the president are that he sought foreign interference in a U.S. election, that he conditioned official acts on the performance of these political favors,” he added, according to The Hill.
In the interview, Schiff said “bribery,” one of the offenses the Constitution outlines as impeachable, had a different meaning at the time the Constitution was written then how it is commonly understood today.
“It was much broader. It connoted the breach of the public trust in a way where you’re offering official acts for some personal or political reason, not in the nation’s interest,” Schiff said. “Here you have the president of the United States seeking help from Ukraine in his reelection campaign in the form of two investigations that he thought were politically advantageous, including one of his primary rivals.”
“It doesn’t have to be cash. It can be something of value,” Schiff added, saying that conditioning foreign aid on political favors could be considered bribery even in the modern context.
“And clearly, given the concerted effort that was brought about to get these investigations going by the president, by Rudy Giuliani, by Ambassador Sondland, by others, this was something of great value to the president,” he said.
Schiff’s comments follow a marked escalation in the rhetoric used by Democrats to describe what they believe are impeachable offenses committed by President Trump.