Clash between Republicans and Rep. Adam Schiff overshadows Russia intelligence hearing
WASHINGTON — Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday demanded that Chairman Adam B. Schiff step down from his post in light of his repeated allegations that President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russians in the 2016 election, the latest in growing GOP attacks against the California Democrat.
The heated, partisan back-and-forth at times overshadowed an intelligence hearing intended to discuss Russia’s election interference in 2016 and ongoing threats to the United States.
Days after special counsel Robert Mueller cleared the president of criminal collusion, Republicans have used the report to try to undermine the legitimacy of Schiff and other Democrats who have long accused the president of accepting help from the Russians. The full Mueller report has not been released and only described in a summary by Attorney General William Barr.
It’s been just six weeks since Attorney General William Barr was sworn in, but the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General has already issued a report slamming a program Barr created https://t.co/1P5CfBwpGQ
— POLITICO (@politico) March 28, 2019
“Your willingness to continue to promote a demonstrably false narrative is alarming,” said Rep. Mike Conway, R-Texas. “We have no faith in your ability to discharge your duty.”
Conaway and the other eight Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee submitted a letter calling for Schiff’s resignation during the hearing, where experts testified about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s playbook of using Russian money and intelligence to undermine other countries, including the United States.
Schiff angrily dismissed the claims and accused Republicans of failing to fulfill their oversight responsibilities.
He said he accepted Mueller’s decision not to file an indictment in the case but said it doesn’t change his position that Trump’s campaign was open to Russian assistance.
He went through a litany of evidence that he said suggested collusion, including Trump’s calls for Russians to hack Democrats’ emails; Donald Trump Jr.’s and Jared Kushner’s meetings with Russian officials, and their decision not to go to the FBI afterward.
“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,” a visibly angry Schiff said.
After GOP committee members call for his resignation, Rep. Adam Schiff launches aggressive defense, listing interactions between Trump-linked and Russia-linked figures.
— ABC News (@ABC) March 28, 2019
Trump has also targeted Schiff, accusing the lawmaker — without providing any evidence — of breaking the law. “Congressman Adam Schiff, who spent two years knowingly and unlawfully lying and leaking, should be forced to resign from Congress!” Trump tweeted shortly before the hearing began.
Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, accused Schiff of operating the panel in a way that poses a “danger to our national security” and acting in “true McCarthy fashion,” a reference to the questionable tactics of former Sen. Joe McCarthy in his anti-Communist campaign.
Schiff said the attacks from Trump and congressional Republicans are “nothing new” and has insisted that he is conducting proper oversight.
Democrats have rallied around Schiff and his position as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a leading voice in the Russia investigation.
— The Hill (@thehill) March 28, 2019
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., defended Schiff, saying earlier this week that he expects him to be “chairing that committee for a long time to come.”
Schiff was also just named to a key fundraising chairmanship post at the Democratic committee tasked with preserving the party’s majority in the House.