California Congressman Adam Schiff is doing a masterful job leading the House Democratic team that is laying out the case against President Donald Trump in the Senate impeachment trial. Always in command of the facts, often eloquent and occasionally quite emotionally effective, Schiff and his colleagues have repeatedly made the point that the nation’s founders who wrote the Constitution were intent on dividing the powers of government between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary to guard against the rise of any form of monarchy akin to the one they had thrown off in the recent revolution. Placing in the hands of the Congress the power to impeach and remove a renegade president was the ultimate expression of this concern.

At one point, Schiff read a quote from a letter Alexander Hamilton wrote to George Washington in 1792 in which Hamilton described the sort of populist demagogue he feared could rise up and shatter the foundations of democracy: “…a man unprincipled in private life, desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper… despotic in his ordinary demeanor—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty… when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity… it may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”

Hamilton well understood the greatest potential threat to the republic he helped invent. In quoting this founding father, Schiff provided a disturbingly prescient portrait of the current occupant of the White House.

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