Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could, by Adam Schiff

Nine stars

Always eager to see what’s going on in the world of US Politics, I was happy to get my hands on this political memoir by Adam Schiff. A key player for the Democrats in the House of Representatives during the Trump Administration, Schiff takes the reader through his political journey. From humble beginnings through to being one of President Trump’s most mocked enemies, Schiff offers some insightful views into the way Washington shifted and how congressional work was much more difficult over those four years.

Adam Schiff opens the book putting things in context, almost foreshadpwing and foreboding where things were headed in the latter chapters. While he mentions much around the two impeachment trials and the January 6th, 2021 insurrection, Schiff does takes readers back to where it all began. A frugal life in a Jewish family, Schiff learned the value of both parties from his politically active parents. The value of debate and hearing both sides of the argument became an essential part of the Schiff household, allowing Adam to see just how important a well-rounded education might be.

After working hard through school along the West Coast, Schiff scored a prestigious spot at Harvard Law, where his studies were enriched with some of the strongest legal minds in the country, something that he would come back to later in the book. Schiff had a passion for them aw and wanted to use it to help others, doing so both in private practice and within the District Attorney’s office, where he got a taste for all things related to the law. This would also have Schiff discover the influence that politics could have in the hands of those who remained intuitive.

After a few drubbings, Schiff was helped in his bid to win a seat to the House of Representatives. It was there that Adam Schiff saw some of his dreams and aspirations come to life. Able to serve his constituency and America as a whole, Schiff worked diligently through some of the tensest moments of the early 21st century, coming out with a greater respect for the legislative process and his fellow members. Schiff rose through the ranks and was eventually awarded key committee posts, allowing him to hone his skills and serve even more effectively.

While Schiff does delve a great deal into the 2016 election and the emergence of Donald J. Trump, it was only after the new Administration began acting in a highly reckless manner that Democrats took notice and sought to stop things. Much is made of discussions around aid to Ukraine in return for assistance, which led to impeachment investigations into POTUS. Schiff explores how his role as chair on the House Intelligence Committee allowed him to see a great deal of information that cemented the illegality of Trump’s actions. Delving into both the political and legal aspects of this, Schiff provides the reader its some foundational context.

Schiff was also a key player where Articles of Impeachment were crafted, debated, and passed in the House of Representatives, with details emerging in the book about how Trump’s guilt appeared apparent. However, there was still a great deal of rhetoric and drama around the process, called a ‘witch hunt’ by some and ‘partisan politics’ by others. While the Articles passed, divisions in the country were only to become more deeply apparent throughout the process. When Schiff served as a Manager for the impeachment trial, things only got more tense and Trump unleashed more barbs sure to bring down a lesser man.

The latter portion of the book explores the impeachment itself, where Schiff led the arguments in the Senate and sought to persuade many not only of Trump’s guilt, but the need to act on it and no longer cower the shadows, worried about what POTUS would do. It became more and more apparent that many Republicans worried about their re-election possibilities in light of defying their ‘so-called leader’. Many readers will know how things turned out, but to see some of the insider discussions adds depth to the piece.

The 2020 presidential election and the foibles around that vote were also front and centre in the book, a topic with which many are familiar. Schiff details the events throughout the campaign, including here falsehoods about mail-in balloting and assertions that Trump made about re-election being guaranteed or there was surely corruption taking place. All this led to the dramatic assertions about bullying of a stolen election and culminated in the January 6, 2021 insurrection. No one ever said US politics were boring!

While I could go on and on about the book and its content, I want to give the curious reader something to read and enjoy for themselves. Schiff writes in such a way that the reader cannot help but want to read more, with details and wonderful anecdotes that personalise the experience. His style is clear and concise, allowing the reader to see his views without feeling bullied if they do not share them. Detailed and thorough, Schiff does not stand down in the face of adversity and bullying of his own by Trump, but chooses to present the truths he has come to know and the worries he has for the country he loves. Well-paced chapters, clear chronologies, and a great deal of supporting documentation make this a must read for anyone looking for something to keep their political curiosities burning. I know I’ll be keeping an eye on how things progress (regress) in the US and what Adam Schiff has to say about it all!

Kudos, Mr. Schiff, for an insightful and detailed exploration of all this political. It’s nice to see another perspective that shows, yet again, how derailed POTUS 45 became throughout his presidency and out of touch with the general well-being of the country’s population he remained.

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