Top Republican lawmakers are calling on Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to resign as chair of the House Intelligence Committee after Attorney General William Barr’s summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation said Mueller found no evidence that President Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russian government during the 2016 election.
Schiff, an outspoken critic of the president, has suggested in recent months that publicly available information about interactions between Trump campaign aides and Russian agents amounted to proof of collusion.
“I think there’s plenty of evidence of collusion or conspiracy in plain sight,” Schiff told CBS’ “Face The Nation” in August when asked whether his committee had been presented with “evidence of collusion, coordination or conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“Now that’s a different statement than saying that there’s proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a criminal conspiracy,” he added. “Bob Mueller will have to determine that.”
But Barr, nominated by Trump in December to head the Justice Department following Jeff Sessions’ ouster, wrote in a letter to Congress on Sunday that Mueller did not find such evidence during his yearslong probe.
The revelation prompted gloating from the president, who has repeatedly claimed “no collusion,” and an exchange of barbs between GOP lawmakers and their Democratic counterparts.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday bashed Schiff’s previous comments suggesting the existence of proof of collusion and demanded the California Democrat step down as the Intelligence Committee chair.
“[The] Mueller report just came through and proved that he lied,” McCarthy said during an interview with Fox News. “He should apologize to the American public and he should step back from being chair of the intel committee.”
A spokeswoman for House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) told HuffPost in an email Monday that Scalise also believes Schiff should step down from leading the committee.
“For years, Adam Schiff took every chance he could to falsely claim that he had concrete proof that President Trump colluded with Russia,” she said in a statement to HuffPost. “Mueller’s report exposed that as a lie once and for all, stripping Schiff of any credibility he may have had.”
Schiff, who took over as committee chair in January, brushed off calls for his resignation from the committee in a statement to The New York Times on Monday.
“The attacks by Mr. Trump and his allies are not particularly new and I expect they will continue as long as he is in office,” he said. “But I am going to continue to do my oversight job.”
Meanwhile, the White House has taken its attacks on Schiff a step further, calling for the Democratic lawmaker’s ouster from Congress altogether. Top White House aide Kellyanne Conway told Fox News on Monday that “he ought to resign today.”
Schiff “has been on every TV show 50 times a day for practically the last two years, promising Americans that the president would either be impeached or indicted,” Conway falsely claimed.
“He has no right ― as somebody who’s been peddling a lie day after day after day unchallenged,” she continued. “Somebody should have put him under oath and said, ‘You have evidence? Where is it?’”
Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have defended Schiff against the GOP’s barrage of attacks.
“Democrats aren’t going to be intimidated by the White House or congressional Republicans,” a spokeswoman for Pelosi told Politico. “We’re not going to be distracted from securing the release of the full Mueller report and the underlying evidence, and we will continue to pursue legitimate oversight because that’s what the Constitution requires.”
Asked Sunday whether Mueller’s completed report undermined his past comments about collusion evidence, Schiff said no.
“We’re going to have to wait to see the report,” he told “Face The Nation.” “That report needs to be made public ASAP so we can evaluate the body of evidence on the issue of conspiracy and look at why Bob Mueller decided not to indict.”
That report needs to be made public ASAP so we can evaluate the body of evidence on the issue of conspiracy and look at why Bob Mueller decided not to indict. Adam Schiff
“Now vis-à-vis the president, Bob Mueller can’t indict the president,” he continued. “So the fact that no future indictments either on conspiracy or obstruction of justice doesn’t tell us about the quantum of evidence. So I think we need to wait to see the report.”
Trump has said he doesn’t mind if Mueller’s report is released to the public, though he has claimed only Barr can decide to do so.
Barr “needs to make that report publicly available,” Schiff said Sunday. “The special counsel spent two years almost investigating this. The public has a right to know and a need to know so that we don’t have to ask questions about what the evidence was on either of these core subjects of his investigation.”