Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who rose to national prominence as the lead prosecutor in President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, said Thursday he is running for the Senate seat held by long-serving Democrat Dianne Feinstein.
Feinstein has yet to announce any plans for retirement, and Democrat Rep. Katie Porter is also running for that seat.
In other words, Schiff may have just escalated a messy primary. The Democrats may find themselves with a P.R. problem amid all this infighting, and New York’s Chuck Schumer may lose his position as Senate majority leader.
Schumer himself refused to comment on Schiff’s move. He told a CNN reporter that it was “much too early” to have that discussion.
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Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, made clear he intends to anchor his campaign to his role as Trump’s chief antagonist in Congress. In his campaign kickoff video, he called his role as impeachment manager the “biggest job of my life” and he promised to be a “fighter.”
“If our democracy isn’t delivering for Americans, they’ll look for alternatives, like a dangerous demagogue who promises that he alone can fix it,” Schiff said of Trump, who has announced his 2024 campaign for the presidency.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declined to comment on Rep. Adam Schiff’s bid for the seat occupied by Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “Much too early,” he told me
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 26, 2023
Feinstein, a former San Francisco mayor who joined the Senate in 1992, told reporters in Washington this week that she will make a decision about 2024 in the “next couple of months.”
The 89-year-old Feinstein has filed to run for re-election, but her staff has characterized the move as a techicality of election law, not as a campaign announcement. Feinstein was just sworn in as the oldest member of this current Congress, and she will be 91 on the date of California’s next Senate election.
In contrast, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., is 27 years Feinstein’s junior, and Stabenow just announced her intent to retire at the end of this congressional term. Democrat Rep. Elissa Slotkin is apparently eyeing a run for that seat, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has explicitly declined to run.
By announcing their campaigns so early, Schiff and Porter may be nudging Feinstein to retire… and to make the primary a little less messy.
Schiff said in an interview Thursday that he had spoken to Feinstein a day earlier to inform her about his plans.
“I want to make sure that everything I did was respectful of her and that I did so with her knowledge and her blessing,” Schiff told The Associated Press.
Asked if he was aware of the senator’s plans, Schiff said, “I don’t want to presume to speak for Sen. Feinstein, and I think she’s earned the right to announce her decision when she’s ready to make that announcement.”
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Schiff was first elected to Congress in 2000 and represents parts of Hollywood. He has been a frequent target of conservatives — Trump in particular — since the then-GOP-led House Intelligence Committee he served on started investigating Trump’s ties to Russia in the 2016 election. Schiff was frequently on television questioning Trump’s actions.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy took Schiff off the Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, only a day before Schiff’s campaign announcement.
Take a look at this television appearance from Trump’s first impeachment —
On Meet the Press, Chairman Adam Schiff addressed why witnesses should be called, but only those that have testimony relevant to the charges against the defendant.
It's not part of a fair trial to use irrelevant witnesses to engage in smear campaigns.pic.twitter.com/Fv6FRKpX3C
— 🇺🇦🤝🇺🇸 Monty Boa 🇺🇸🤝🇺🇦 (@MontyBoa99) January 26, 2020
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.