Expect Rep. Adam Schiff, the public face of Democrats' impeachment inquiry who will open the hearings, to be a frequent target of Trump and Republican lawmakers. Trump has even called on the intelligence committee chairman to be made to testify as a witness subject to cross-examination.
In the president's eyes, "Shifty Schiff" is guilty of almost everything: fabricating Trump's conversation with Ukraine's president, writing the whistleblower's complaint himself, treason. None of that is true.
"Didn't he pick the Whistleblower?" Trump tweeted Nov. 2.
"It's a scandal he knew before. I go a step further. I think he probably helped write it," Trump told reporters Oct. 2.
The whistleblower did speak to staffers on the House Intelligence Committee on procedural issues before filing the formal complaint that would trigger the impeachment inquiry. But Trump and his GOP allies are taking a big leap in asserting that Schiff schemed with the whistleblower to lodge the complaint.
Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Schiff, said that committee staff advised the person to contact an inspector general and to seek counsel, but that the committee did not get an early look at the complaint.
The whistleblower's lawyer, Mark Zaid, said the person had never met or spoken with Schiff about the matter.
Trump also has repeatedly claimed that Schiff "illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement" about his Ukraine phone call, sometimes asserting that the California Democrat was then caught in "a total lie" after Trump released a rough transcript of the call. Trump has branded Schiff's acts treason.
Trump is exaggerating the episode and botching the timeline.
Schiff did so after the White House released a rough transcript of the call, not before. So people who read the official account knew Schiff was riffing from it, not quoting from it.
Trump loosely throws around accusations of treason, extending it, for example, to Democratic immigration policy and negative newspaper coverage.
Under the Constitution, treason occurs when a U.S. citizen, or a noncitizen on U.S. territory, wages war against the country or provides material support to a declared enemy of the United States. It is defined narrowly as part of an effort by the framers to prevent the government from using it as a reason to suppress political speech. No one has been convicted of treason since the aftermath of World War II.