This article is written from a Democratic point of view.
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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Top Republicans, including Donald Trump, kept up their pressure campaign against Rep. Adam Schiff, attempting to push the California Democrat off his perch as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee–if not force him out of Congress entirely.
The attacks against Schiff are part of an overall plan of retribution against Trump’s political adversaries, which has ramped up since special counsel Robert Mueller wrapped up his investigation and Attorney General William “Bill” Barr released his letter taking any onus off of Trump on criminal offenses related to Mueller’s probe into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia–and any subsequent obstruction of justice.
As first ranking Democrat, and chairman since January of the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff has been one of Trump’s most dogged critics and persuers.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-Calif.) made it clear that he and other House Republicans want House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to strip Schiff of his position atop Intelligence, saying that he cannot be trusted.
“Today, in that hearing, every single Republican signed a letter that this chairman, they have lost confidence. They do not believe, no matter what they work on, that the American public can trust him,” McCarthy said. “This is not a committee that’s set by a steering committee. One person alone decides who sits on that committee for the Democrat and one person who decides on the Republican side — me. It’s now up to Nancy Pelosi to remove Chairman Schiff. The idea that you would have a chairman of a committee of this nature, the work that is involved in this committee, that would lie to the American public, not apologize, but use the tactics of Senator Joe McCarthy to attack his own members, there’s nothing that could come from this committee that can be trusted. It is time to turn the page.
“The Democrats have wasted their majority. Does Adam Schiff truly believe he knows something more than Mueller, that 40 FBI agents, 19 attorneys, 2,800 subpoenas, 500 witnesses, looking into 13 different countries and saying no collusion at all? He needs to resign from the committee. There is a difference here, drastically. One member lied to the American public, one member told the truth and was attacked for it. Now that the truth is told that [former] chairman [Devin] Nunes [R-Calif.] was correct and that truth is told that Adam Schiff lied to the American public, continued to lie up until March of this year, now I think the speaker and I should get together in remove Schiff.”
Trump himself called Schiff out at his rally in Michigan, calling him “little pencil-necked Adam Schiff.”
Rep. Mike Conaway (R–Tex.) confronted Schiff directly during the course of a session of the intelligence panel.
“Your willingness to continue to promote a demonstrably false narrative is alarming. The findings of the special counsel conclusively refute your past and present assertions and have exposed you as having abused your position to knowingly promote false information. Damaged the integrity of this committee and undermined the faith in the United States government and institutions. Your actions, both past and present, are incompatible with your duty as chairman of this committee, which alone in the House of Representatives has the obligation and authority to provide effective oversight of the U.S. intelligence community,” Conaway said. “As such, we have no faith in your ability to discharge your duties in a manner consistent with your constitutional responsibility and urge your immediate resignation as chairman of the committee. Mr. Chairman, this letter is signed by all nine members of the Republican side of the House — of the committee and I ask it be entered into the record at today’s hearing.”
Pelosi showed no sign of bending to GOP wishes, however, and stoutly defended Schiff.
“I’m so proud of the work of Chairman Adam Schiff in a stark contrast to the irresponsible almost criminal behavior of the previous chair of the committee,” she said, referring to Nunes, who was a Trump ally in the Russia investigation. “So what is the president afraid of? Is he afraid of the truth that he would go after a member a chairman of a committee, a respected chairman of a committee in the Congress? I think they’re just scaredy cats. They just don’t know what to do, so they have to make an attack. They did the wrong thing, American people know that.”
For his own part, Schiff continued to assert collusion.
“You might think it’s okay that the National Security Advisor-designate secretly conferred with a Russian ambassador about undermining U.S. sanctions, and you might think it’s okay that he lied about it to the F.B.I. You might say that’s all okay,” Schiff said referring to Michael Flynn, who briefly served as Trump’s first national security adviser before having to plead guilty to a felony and cooperate with the Mueller probe.
“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 and evidence of collusion,” Schiff added. “Now, I have always said that the question of whether this amounts to proof of conspiracy was another matter. Whether the special counsel could prove beyond a reasonable doubt the proof of that crime would be up to the special counsel and I would accept his decision and I do. He’s a good and honorable man and he is a good prosecutor. But I do not think that conduct, criminal or not, is okay. And the day we do think that’s okay is the day we will look back and say that is the day America lost its way.”