On the Sunday morning, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff promised to look into how the public hearings on the Russia investigation were run by the GOP under former Chairman Devin Nunes.
On CNN’s The State of the Union, Schiff vowed to reverse the committee’s conflict with the special counsel of the last two years. He says he aims to “deconflict” the committee’s interactions with Mueller and will work with Mueller on the special counsel’s separate but parallel investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
As soon as the committee is constituted, Schiff says he intends to make the transcripts of congressional testimony available to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, not only for the purpose of examining the testimony for evidence to aid him in “fleshing out the picture”, but also “for the bringing of perjury charges, if necessary, against any of the witnesses.”
When host Jake Tapper mentioned Roger Stone, Donald Trump Jr, and Michael Cohen as possible targets of perjury charges, Schiff stated, “I don’t want to go into enumerating particularly who I have concerns about, but I do have concerns about certainly multiple witnesses.”
He pointed out that Mueller, having the ability to compel witnesses, is in a better position to determine who was telling the truth in their testimony and who a perjury case can be made against. Schiff pointed out that some witnesses may have felt they had “some kind of immunity with the GOP majority at the time”, referring to the then GOP majority intervening to tell a witness they did not have to answer a question or come before the committee to testify if they didn’t want, often pointing out that the committee would not compel them.
The Representative said that is no way to run an investigation. “There’s no reason to protect these witnesses. There’s every reason to validate Congress’ interest in not having people come before it and lie,” he told Tapper.
On MSNBC, Schiff stated he hopes that witnesses they call to testify will comply voluntarily but he does anticipate the need to subpoena will be necessary.
Schiff pointed out that the GOP majority refused to allow phone records to be subpoenaed regarding phone calls leading up to the Trump Tower Meeting. As the meeting between Donald Trump Jr and the Russian lawyer (who would eventually admit to being a Russian informant) was being arranged by Emin Agalarov, son of Russian oligarch, there were calls made to and from a blocked number.
Trump Jr testified that, although phone records show he called the blocked number and one call was four minutes long, he did not know who that person was. Schiff acknowledges the possibility that President Trump was the person behind the blocked number. The committee, now under control of the Democratic majority, will seek out records to find out who that number belonged to.
Chairman Schiff states that the formerly bipartisan House Intelligence Committee was “blown up” on March 20, 2017, after James Comey testified that there were two investigations – one on Hillary Clinton and one on the Trump Organization. The former Chairman, Devin Nunes took information to the White House in what Schiff calls Nunes’ “Midnight Run”. However, he says the good news is that, in spite of the obvious dysfunction of the committee, they are still doing their assigned bipartisan tasks while cordoning off their partisan disagreements about the Russia investigation.
In the face of extreme political polarization, Schiff says he believes “we must get back to operating rationally and civilly”, adding that he does not accept the premise that hyperpartisanship may now simply be the norm in this “the most precarious time” in the republic in his lifetime.