Complaining about the congressman’s interpretation of his now-infamous July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president, Mr. Trump said Tuesday: “In Guatemala, they handle things much tougher than that.”
“I think that’s what he intended it to be,” Mr. Schiff told CNN when asked if he considered the comment a threat.
“This is a president, after all, who has said of people who blow the whistle on him that they’re traitors and spies and should be treated as traitors and spies used to be treated,” he said. “We used to execute traitors and spies. So this is not a president above threatening anyone who gets in his way, anyone who stands up to him.”
“I think it was quite deliberately designed to be a threat, and this is the president’s modus operandi,” he said. “I’m not the first person he’s made a veiled threat about, I won’t be the last. But this is precisely the kind of conduct Americans should not accept in the Oval Office.”
The White House did not immediately return a message seeking its reaction to Mr. Schiff’s response.
Democrats controlling the House initiated an impeachment inquiry after a member of the U.S. intelligence community raised concerns about Mr. Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Mr. Schiff subsequently read a dramatized version of the call during a House hearing in September, and Mr. Trump has for months criticized the congressman’s interpretation and called for him to resign and be arrested for “treason.”