House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff said House Democrats may have to impeach President Trump following allegations that he pressured Ukraine to investigate a political adversary, a change in tone for the senior Democrat who has long been cautious about efforts to oust the president.

Schiff (Calif.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that Trump’s request that a Ukrainian leader investigate a business connected to former vice president Joe Biden’s son would be “the most profound violation of the presidential oath of office.” Compounding that, he said, is the director of national intelligence’s unwillingness to turn over a recent whistleblower complaint about a call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which he said could amount to a “coverup.”

“I have been very reluctant to go down the path of impeachment. . . . This would be an extraordinary remedy of last resort, not first resort,” Schiff said. “But if the President is essentially withholding military aid at the same time that he is trying to browbeat a foreign leader into doing something illicit that is providing dirt on his opponent during a presidential campaign, then that may be the only remedy that is coequal to the evil that that conduct represents.”

He later added: “We very well may have crossed the Rubicon here.”

Schiff’s comments are particularly striking given his previous unwillingness to call for impeachment. He came to Congress about 20 years ago in part because his predecessor, former Republican congressman James E. Rogan, voted to impeach President Bill Clinton. Schiff defeated him. 

Schiff is also a close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has been an impeachment skeptic and put the House on a path of turning to the courts to enforce subpoenas that the administration has ignored.

Yet, on Sunday, Schiff appeared to suggest Pelosi’s impulse to look to the courts would not do in this instance. The inspector general of the intelligence community has deemed the whistleblower allegation to be “urgent,” which, under law, should have triggered the administration to turn it over to Congress. 

The administration refused.

“We cannot afford to play rope-a-dope in the court for weeks or months on end,” he said. “We need an answer. If there’s a fire burning, it needs to be put out. And that’s why we’re going to have to look at every remedy. . . . We’re going to have to consider impeachment, as well, as remedy here.”