Saying it is “too early” to decide, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sunday did not rule out impeaching President Trump, saying Congress will “need to consider that remedy” if Robert Mueller’s report contains “overwhelming evidence of criminality” on the part of the president.
Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, appeared on ABC’s This Week to weigh in on the notion that there exists “significant evidence of collusion” between Moscow and President Trump’s 2016 campaign, even though Mueller’s office issued a statement that there would be no more indictments coming from the special counsel’s office.
“There’s a difference between compelling evidence of collusion and whether the special counsel concludes that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the criminal charge of conspiracy,” Schiff told This Week host Stephanopoulos.
“If there were overwhelming evidence of criminality on the president’s part then Congress would need to consider that remedy if indictment is foreclosed” https://t.co/lJVN6LmxEQ pic.twitter.com/QlPQm5p4b9
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 24, 2019
NEW: Rep. Adam Schiff says “it was a mistake to rely on written responses” by Trump in the Mueller probe.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 24, 2019
Following is a full transcript of Schiff’s appearance, via ABC News:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s bring in now the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. Chairman Schiff, thank you for joining us this morning.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, the biggest news from Robert Mueller so far is that there are no new indictments for that underlying — any cooperating with and (ph) conspiracy with the Russians to interfere in our elections. And we’re already seeing Rudy Giuliani come out with a tweet about that yesterday, citing you. He said your previous statement saying there is significant evidence of collusion involving the Trump campaign. I trust he, Adam Schiff, is relieved there is no collusion and I hope he will apologize for his mistake. We all make them. The real virtue is to admit it. It would help us heal. You going to apologize?
SCHIFF: I think Mr. Giuliani would be wise to wait until the report is made public before making any pronouncements about vindication. And likewise, people should wait to determine just how incriminating it is. We know the special counsel was not permitted to indict a sitting president and we ought to see what evidence he produced, both on the issue of conspiracy as well as on the issue obstruction of justice. So Mr. Giuliani would be wise to do something he has rarely done and that is wait until we see the facts.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have said, though, in the past there was significant evidence of collusion. How do you square that with Robert Mueller’s decision not to indict anyone?
SCHIFF: And there is significant evidence of collusion and we’ve set that out time and time again from the secret meetings in Trump Tower to the conversations between Flynn, and the Russian ambassador to the providing of polling data to someone linked to Russian intelligence and Stone’s conversation with WikiLeaks and the GRU through Guccifer 2.0 —
STEPHANOPOULOS: None of it prosecuted.
SCHIFF: No, that’s true. And as I pointed out on your show many times, there’s a difference between compelling evidence of collusion and whether the special counsel concludes that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the criminal charge of conspiracy and as I’ve said before, George, I leave that decision to Bob Mueller and I have full confidence in him. And I think frankly the country owes Bob Mueller a debt of gratitude for conducting the investigation as professionally as he has. So I — I have trust his prosecutorial judgment but that doesn’t mean, of course, that there isn’t compelling and incriminating evidence that should be shared with the American people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What you’re seeing some of the president’s allies already say is this is vindication for the president.
SCHIFF: Well they’ve been saying with each indictment that it’s a vindication that now, about six people close to the president have been indicted. That hardly looks like vindication to me. But again, let’s see what the report has to say. If they’re so confident that the report is going to exonerate them, they should fight to make that report and the underlying evidence public and available to Congress. But I suspect that we’ll find those words of transparency to prove hollow, that in fact they will fight to make sure that Congress doesn’t get this underlying evidence.
But we are going to take it as far as necessary to make sure that we do. We have an independent obligation to share the facts with the American people. We in the intelligence committee have a particular obligation to determine whether there is evidence whether that the president may be compromised in any way, where that is criminal or not and of course there are indications he was pursuing money in Russia through trump tower and other potential real estate that could be deeply compromising.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say you’re going to take it as far as necessary. That means subpoena first, then sue?
SCHIFF: IT means make the request, if the question request denied, subpoena. If subpoenas are denied, we will haul people before the Congress. And yes, we will prosecute in court as necessary to get this information. And you know, I’ll say this, I think that Neal Katyal’s prognostication is quite correct, we will win that litigation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why are you so sure?
SCHIFF: — the Just Department will be — well, because how do you make the case to the Justice Department that after providing 88,000 pages of discovery to a Republican Congress and answered to subpoenas that somehow you’re precluded from providing that information to Congress in the Trump investigation. When likewise in the Clinton investigation, there were no indictments for Rod Rosenstein or others to say, it’s our policy not the share information with those not indicted, they should explain that to Bruce Ohr or Andy McCabe or Peter Strzok or Lisa Page or countless others — Hillary Clinton, for whom they provided hundreds of thousands of pages of information to congress, much of it made public.
So, I would hate to defend that double standard in court, and if they try they’ll not only lose, but they will damage any reputation for impartiality, so I think they need to be transparent, and I hope they recognize that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You also asked Robert Mueller to examine transcripts of Donald Trump Jr., Eric Prince, Jared Kushner, for possible false statements, no charges there, either. Surprised?
SCHIFF: I don’t know. That’s a difficult charge to prove. When we released the transcript, people can make their own judgment about how truthful or forthcoming they were.
But as I said at the time, I wanted the special couple to be able to review the transscripts, not just for the purpose of determining whether people lied to us, as indeed, people did, but also what evidence they show on the central issues that he was investigating.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There is no public evidence that Robert Mueller even interviewed Don Jr. We now he didn’t interview the president. Mistake?
SCHIFF: Yes. I think — and I have said this all along, it was a mistake to rely on written responses by the president, that is generally more what the lawyer has to say than what the individual has to say. I can certainly understand why the lawyers like Giuliani were fighting this, because the president is someone who seems pathologically incapable of telling the truth for long periods of time.
But nonetheless, if you really do want the truth, you need to put people under oath. And that should is have been done, but the special counsel may have made the decision that, as he could not indict a sitting president on the obstruction issue, as it would draw out his investigation, that that didn’t make sense.
And one other point in terms of the timing of this report, George, which I think is significant, and that is this report has come out so far in advance of the election that the contents can be made public, that the public can have that access to information without violating any policy about disclosure prior to an election. And that is very important.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned that the criminal investigation was only one part of Robert Mueller’s job. He also took over the counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference, as well.
I was a little puzzled that the speaker is ruling out any classified briefing about that counterintelligence investigation. Isn’t that the normal course of business for your committee and the so-called Gang of Eight?
SCHIFF: There may be a time down the road with respect to specific classified information that goes to a source or method where they would want to brief us on that. But I think what the speaker is
saying, and I completely agree is, do not think you can bury this report. Do not think you can bury the evidence in secret by briefing eight people in congress and say we have discharged our responsibility. That’s not going to cut it.
So it is essential that the report be made completely public, and the reservations that you
have mentioned, the legal issues. One thing is abundantly clear about the special counsel regulations, and that is the attorney general has the discretion to make it completely public. And if he’s going to live up to his words that he will do so consistent with law and policy, that means making it all public.
So, I think the speaker is quite right. There are key counterintelligence concerns that we
have as the committee, the intelligence committee, and remember this began as a counterintelligence investigation, not a criminal one, and in our committee it remains a counterintelligence investigation. We need to be able to see any evidence that this president or people around him maybe compromised by a foreign power. And we, of course, seen all kinds of disturbing indications that this president has a relationship with Putin that is very difficult to justify or explain.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned — you told the San Francisco chronicle on Friday if there is no bombshell, there is no impeachment. Does no in up indictments qualify as no bombshell?
SCHIFF: Not necessarily, because again, George, as you pointed out, they can’t indict the president. That’s their policy. And therefore there could be overwhelming evidence on the obstruction
issue. And I don’t know that that’s the case, but if this were overwhelming evidence of criminality on the president’s part, then the congress would need to consider that remedy if indictment is foreclosed.
So, it’s really too early to make those judgments. We need to see the report. And then I think we’ll all have a factual basis to discuss what does this mean for the American people? What risks are we running with this president? What steps does congress need to take to protect the country, but in the absence of those facts, those judgments are impossible to make?
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, some of your Republican colleagues are saying that by
continuing this investigation after Mueller is done, you’re moving the goal posts.
SCHIFF: The investigation is a criminal investigation. Congress’s responsibility is very different, and that is it’s our responsibility to tell the American people these are the facts. This is what your president has done, this is what his key campaign and appointees have done, these are the issues that we need to take action on, this is potential compromise. There is evidence, for example, quite in the public realm, that the president sought to make money from the Russians, sought the Kremlin’s help to
make money during the presidential campaign while denying business ties with the Russians. That is obviously deeply compromising. And if its this president’s view that he still wants to build that tower when he is out of office, that may further compromise his policy towards Putin, towards Russia and other things. It’s our duty to expose that and take corrective action.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chairman Schiff, thanks for your time this morning.
SCHIFF: Thanks, George.
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