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California Democratic Congressman Schiff censured by U.S. House, now faces Ethics investigation

By: Frank Corder - June 22, 2023

Congressman Adam Schiff ((AP Photo/Susan Walsh - 2018) and Congressman Michael Guest (Photo from Guest)

Mississippi’s 3rd District Congressman and chairman of the U.S. House Ethics Committee Michael Guest is now tasked with overseeing an investigation into Congressman Schiff’s “falsehoods, misrepresentations, and abuses of sensitive information.”

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to censure Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, by a four vote margin – 213 to 209 – down party lines.

Censure is essentially a formal reprimand or statement of disapproval carried out by the body against one of its own members. It is a public reading of a resolution rebuking that member’s actions as the Congressman stands in the well of the House before the body. Congressman Schiff’s censure is the 24th time the action has been used in the U.S. House and just the third time censure has been used in nearly 40 years.

The resolution of censure – H. Res. 521 – against Schiff, as drafted by Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna, is based on his “misleading the American public and for conduct unbecoming of an elected Member of the House of Representatives.” The specific claims against Schiff outlined in the censure resolution include:

  • Abusing the public trust and the trust of the body by alleging he had evidence of Trump-Russia collusion that never existed, per reports by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, and Special Counsel Durham.
  • Spreading false accusations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.
  • Perpetuating false allegations from the Steele Dossier accusing numerous Trump associates of colluding with Russia into the Congressional Record.
  • Falsely denying that his staff communicated with a whistleblower to launch the first impeachment of President Trump.
  • Misleading the public by reading a false retelling of a phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Before the vote on the resolution, Congressman Schiff spoke on the House floor, calling the censure an “honor.”

“You honor me with your enmity. You flatter me with this falsehood,” Schiff said. “You, who are the authors of the `Big Lie’ about the last election must condemn the truth-tellers, and I stand proudly before you. Your words tell me that I have been effective in the defense of our democracy, and I am grateful.”

Schiff is currently running for the U.S. Senate in California as well.

Following the vote, Democrats led chants of “Shame” and huddled around Schiff in support.

A similar resolution was attempted last week, also by Congresswoman Luna, a Republican from Florida, but it failed to advance after a motion to table was upheld. Twenty Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the initial measure. At issue in the first censure resolution was primarily the recommendation that Schiff be fined $16,000,000 as “the American taxpayers paid $32 million to fund the investigation into collusion that was launched as a result of Representative Schiff’s lies, misrepresentations, and abuses of sensitive information.”

The provision related to the recommendation of a fine was removed from the version of the censure resolution passed by the U.S. House on Wednesday evening.

However, the approved censure resolution does state that “the Committee on Ethics shall conduct an investigation into Representative Adam Schiff’s falsehoods, misrepresentations, and abuses of sensitive information.” Mississippi’s 3rd District Congressman Michael Guest is now the chairman of the House Ethics Committee.

On Wednesday, Congressman Guest, along with his fellow Mississippi Republican Congressmen Trent Kelly and Mike Ezell, voted to deny the motion to table the resolution, allowing it to come to the full body for a vote – the same as they did last week.

But on final passage of the censure resolution, Guest voted present. He and the other Republican members of the House Ethics Committee did so to avoid the appearance that they had prejudged Schiff and then could not conduct a fair investigation into the matter as outlined in the resolution. Congressman Guest told Magnolia Tribune late Wednesday night:

Today, the House of Representatives held two votes on H. Res. 521. This resolution censured Representative Adam Schiff and also instructed the House Committee on Ethics to conduct an investigation into the past actions of Schiff.

On the first vote, I voted in favor of allowing the resolution to move forward for debate and ultimately to allow the House to consider the resolution.

Because this resolution both imposes a sanction while also directing the Ethics Committee to investigate, I along with all Republican members on the Ethics Committee voted “Present.” As the Chairman of the committee to which the matter would be referred, I voted “Present” to avoid any appearance that I may have prejudged the matter or otherwise could not conduct the investigation called for in the resolution.

As for the process by which a House Ethics Committee investigation is to move forward following this censure of Schiff, that has yet to be determined.

Both Mississippi Congressmen Kelly and Ezell voted for the censure of Schiff while the state’s lone Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson did not.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications such as the Daily Caller. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: