Firing back at demands by GOP lawmakers that he give up his chairmanship of a key House committee over the results of the special counsel’s Russia investigation, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) delivered a passionate speech Thursday reminding those critics of everything they’re turning a blind eye to.
Schiff reiterated all the evidence connecting President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign with Russia after all nine Republicans on the House intelligence committee announced that they’d all signed a letter calling on him to resign as the head of the panel.
“You might say that’s all okay,” Schiff said of the evidence he listed. “You might say that’s just what you need to do to win. But I don’t think it’s okay. I think it’s immoral, I think it’s unethical, I think it’s unpatriotic, and yes, I think it’s corrupt.”
The Republicans’ demands ― coming on the heels of Trump’s call that Schiff resign from Congress, period ― stem from the weekend release of Attorney General William Barr’s summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. According to the summary, Mueller did not find that Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia, but it did not exonerate the president on whether he committed obstruction of justice as the special counsel’s probe proceeded.
During the investigation, Schiff emerged as one of the most vocal critics of Trump and his campaign’s connections with Russia, making him a prime target for the attacks from the president and other Republicans following the summary’s release
At Thursday’s intelligence committee session, Schiff told his GOP colleagues, “As you have chosen — instead of addressing the hearing — to simply attack me, consistent with the president’s attacks, I do want to respond in this way.” He then launched into the litany of items he thinks Republicans are overlooking.
“My colleagues may think it’s okay that the Russians offered dirt on [Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton] as part of what was described as the Russian government’s effort to help the Trump campaign,” he said, referencing a now infamous meeting in June 2016 at New York’s Trump Tower. “You might think that’s okay. My colleagues might think it’s okay that when that was offered to the son of the president (Donald Trump Jr.), who had a pivotal role in the campaign, that the president’s son did not call the FBI. He did not adamantly refuse that foreign help.”
Elaborating, Schiff said, “Instead that son said that he would love the help of the Russians. You might think it’s okay that he took that meeting. You might think it’s okay that Paul Manafort, the campaign chair, someone with great experience in running campaigns, also took that meeting. You might think it’s okay that the president’s son-in-law (Jared Kushner) took that meeting. You might think it’s okay they concealed it from the public.”
He also reiterated the crime to which Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has pleaded guilty, saying, “You might think it’s okay that he secretly conferred with a Russian ambassador about undermining U.S. sanctions & then lied about it to the FBI.”
Barr, in the summary he released of Mueller’s investigation, said that he determined Trump did not obstruct justice. The basis for his conclusion, that, as well as Mueller’s finding the Trump’s campaign did not conspire with Russia, remain largely unknown. Barr has pledged to release much of the full Mueller report within weeks. The Justice Department confirmed Thursday that it is more 300 pages long.
Schiff, first elected to his House seat in 2000, was the ranking Democrat on the then-GOP controlled House intelligence committee when the Mueller investigation began. He assumed the panel’s helm in January after Democrats won control of the House in last November’s election.