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Trump attacks whistleblower, Schiff, tweets impeachment would cause 'Civil War-like fracture'

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By Allan Smith  with NBC News Politics
Image: President Donald Trump is greeted by Pastor Robert Jeffress during t
President Donald Trump is greeted by Pastor Robert Jeffress during the Celebrate Freedom Rally at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.   -   Copyright  Olivier Douliery Getty Images

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday to attack the whistleblower at the center of the growing Ukraine scandaland House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff after promoting comments from a supportive pastor who told Fox News that the president's impeachment would lead to a "Civil War-like fracture in this nation."

Trump's comments come as he faces an impeachment inquiry in the House over his discussions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which involved Trump asking his foreign counterpart to probe former Vice President Joe Biden's family. The Trump administration, around the same time as that July conversation, placed a hold on hundreds of millions in Ukrainian military aid, only to release it earlier this month.

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Trump called the whistleblower complaintat the center of the scandal "fake" on Monday and said it was "not holding up," even though it lined up with a record of the July 25 call between the two presidents that the White House released, was deemed credible by a Trump-appointed intelligence community inspector general, and was authored by a whistleblower who Trump-appointed acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire told Congress last week had acted in "good faith."

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Then Trump went after Schiff, who he said "illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people.."

"It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call," Trump added. "Arrest for Treason?"

Though the remarks Trump was referring to, which Schiff made during the hearing with Maguire last week, did not line up verbatim with the detailed summary of the call released by the White House, they did mirror its description. Schiff himself made clear during the hearing that his remarks were "the essence" of what Trump said during the call.

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Trump's attackscame after he promoted remarks Sunday night from Dallas-based evangelical pastor and Fox News contributor Robert Jeffress — one of Trump's most prominent backers — during a Sunday interview on "Fox & Friends."

Jeffress, who leads a Baptist megachurch in Dallas, was asked to respond to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying Saturday that impeachment marks a "very sad time for our country," one that requires Americans being "somber" and "prayerful."

Jeffress said it was "hard to take" Pelosi's "call to prayer seriously," adding that evangelical Christians have "never" been "more angry over any issue than this attempt to illegitimately remove this president from office, overturn the 2016 election and negate the votes of millions of evangelicals in the process."

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"And they know that the only impeachable offense President Trump has committed was beating Hillary Clinton in 2016," he claimed. "That's the unpardonable sin for which the Democrats will never forgive him. And I do want to make this prediction this morning: If the Democrats are successful in removing the president from office, I'm afraid it will cause a Civil War-like fracture in this nation from which this country will never heal."

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., condemned Trump for promoting the remarks, calling them "beyond repugnant."

"I have visited nations ravaged by civil war," Kinzinger, who is an Air Force lieutenant colonel, tweeted. "@realDonaldTrump I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President."

Jeffress is no stranger to controversy. During the 2012 election cycle, he said former President Barack Obama was "paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist." Additionally, Jeffress has said Islam promotes pedophilia, called Catholicism a "Babylonian mystery religion," and labeled Mormonism "a cult."

Trump faces a growing scandal over his actions involving Ukraine, which included the call to investigate Biden's son, Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company that had previously been under investigation by that country's former top prosecutor. The House launched the formal impeachment inquiry into the matter last week.

The whistleblower complaint made public last week detailedhow White House officials were so concerned about what the president said in the call with Zelenskiy that they intervened to "lock down" the record of the conversation.

The whistleblower filed the complaint, which relied on the accounts of White House and other U.S. officials, out of a belief Trump was "using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country" in the 2020 election.