Censure this House: Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Republicans abuse their power to punish Adam Schiff

When 20 House Republicans joined with Democrats last week to reject a partisan censure of California Congressman Adam Schiff, along with a $16 million fine, for his handling of the first impeachment of Donald Trump, there was hope that the nonsense was dead. But seven days later, the Republicans dropped the fine and got everyone in their conference on board.

Following the 213 to 209 vote on Wednesday, as is the long custom, Schiff was directed by Speaker Kevin McCarthy to present himself in the well of the House, where McCarthy read the censure.


It was shameful. But the shame is not on Schiff, who broke no rule or law or practice, but McCarthy and the GOP, who have now politicized the punishment power of the House. Censure, the most serious sanction short of expulsion, is supposed to be for major breaches of the norms of the national legislature, not to settle political scores.

Harlem’s Charlie Rangel was properly censured a dozen years ago for a host of violations related to financial improprieties.

The overwhelming vote was bipartisan. Paul Gosar of Arizona was properly censured in 2021 for posting a video showing himself killing AOC and attacking President Biden. The vote was narrowly bipartisan, with only the two Jan. 6 committee Republican stalwarts, Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheny, joining the Democrats. Even so, there is no dispute that Gosar published the video and it was wrong.

With Schiff, there is nothing like either the Rangel or Gosar cases, or a century’s worth of censures, stemming from crimes or serious ethical violations.

This is politics, so there will always be fights and disputes and bruised feelings. But censures aren’t meant to be part of the political tussles, but rather to punish wrongdoing.

Trump didn’t like being impeached, as he correctly was, and his toady Republicans decided to slam Schiff, who is running for Senate. If Schiff is successful and, God forbid, so is Trump, Sen. Schiff will be able to vote for Trump’s conviction in his third impeachment trial.