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Oct. 15, 2021, 5:57 p.m. EDT

Nearly two years after Trump’s first impeachment, the former president and lead House manager Adam Schiff remain central figures

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“The Radical Left Democrats tried the RUSSIA Witch Hunt, they tried the fake impeachments, and now they are trying once again to use Congress to persecute their political opponents,” Trump said in a recent statement.

See: ‘Big Lie’ allegiance dividing Republicans into Trump loyalists and a Cheney-Romney-Kinzinger wing

Also: Republican gubernatorial candidate skips ‘Take Back Virginia Rally’ featuring Trump, Bannon and others

Schiff tweeted this week the panel is “not messing around” and expects Biden’s Department of Justice to prosecute the criminal contempt cases to force compliance.

The goal, Schiff says, is for the committee’s end product to be a “historic record as a way of exposing to the American people what went into that tragedy, but also as a way of forming recommendations about how do we move forward as a country, how do we protect our democracy.”

With Trump ensconced at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Pam Beach, Fla. ( and, seasonally, the Trump golf club in Bedminster, N.J. ), weighing another White House run and visiting the early voting states to rally enthusiastic crowds, Washington is waiting and wondering about his next move.

Schiff acknowledges that he and other Democrats were ill prepared for Trump’s popularity, and still five years on struggle to mount a compelling counter-argument to woo back voters who left the party for Trump.

More immediately, Democrats face the prospect of a House Republican takeover in next fall’s midterm elections, elevating McCarthy to replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi.“If Kevin McCarthy were ever to become speaker, essentially Donald Trump would be speaker,” Schiff warns.

He and Democratic colleagues have assembled a package of post-Watergate style legislation aimed at shoring up the nation’s civic infrastructure and tightening ethics rules for the post-Trump era. But faced with Republican opposition, it is unlikely to pass the Senate.

Schiff positions America’s experience alongside a broader “global struggle going on right now between autocracy and democracy. People around the world used to look to us as a beacon. Now they see people climbing on the outside of our Capitol, beating police officers,” he said.

“So many of the things that we thought could never happen in this country have already happened.”

MarketWatch contributed.

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