This morning, during a hearing on Russian oligarchs, the nine GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee demanded that Rep. Adam Schiff [D-CA] resign his position as Chairman of the committee, Politico reports. Mike Conaway [R-TX] read the letter, written in the wake of Attorney General Barr’s summary of the recently submitted Mueller report, calling for Schiff’s resignation out loud during the hearing.
The letter was also signed by Representatives Nunes of California, Turner and Wenstrup from Ohio, Stewart of Utah, Crawford of Arkansas, Stefanik of New York, and Hurd and Ratcliffe of Texas. They accuse Schiff of being “at the center of a well-orchestrated media campaign” which claims “the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government”. The letter seems to imply that Schiff is responsible for anonymous leaks that occurred “at the same time” as his public statements.
The letter from all nine Republican committee members states they have “no faith” in Schiff’s ability to discharge his duties because his “actions both past and present are incompatible with” his “duty as Chairman of this committee” before urging Schiff to resign as Chairman.
Schiff responded to the minority members’ demands by listing many of the publicly known contacts with Russia and questionable behaviors individuals close to the Trump campaign are known to have engaged in during the 2016 presidential election.
He noted that President Trump’s son, son-in-law, and campaign manager met with Russians who offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton as part of what is described as the Russian government’s efforts to help the Trump campaign instead of calling the FBI. The chairman further noted that the president’s associates were merely disappointed that the dirt offered wasn’t better.
He said, “You might think that’s okay. You might think it’s okay that when it was discovered a year later that they lied about that meeting and said it was about adoptions. You might think that it’s okay that the president is reported to have helped dictate that lie. You might think that’s okay. I don’t.”
Schiff went on to say that he doesn’t think it is okay that Paul Manafort, Trump campaign manager, offered information about the campaign to a Russian oligarch in return for money or debt forgiveness and offered polling data to a person affiliated with Russian intelligence.
In the litany of publicly known actions, the representative also listed the president’s calling on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails “if they were listening” and the fact that later that day Russians attempted to hack a server affiliated with the Clinton campaign. Roger Stone’s contact with GRU (Russian Intelligence) through Wikileaks and Guccifer 2.0 and the president’s son-in-law seeking to establish a secret back channel of communications with the Russians through a Russian diplomatic facility were also listed.
He said, “You might think it’s okay that National Security Advisor designate secretly conferred with a Russian ambassador about undermining US sanctions and you might think it is okay that he lied about it to the FBI. You might say that’s all okay. You might say that’s just what you need to do to win.”
Schiff continued, as the Republicans on the committee looked on, “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. 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 respect his decision. And I do. He is 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.”
After the president tweeted that Schiff should resign, the Democrats rallied around Schiff, with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi saying, “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? I think they’re just scaredy cats. They don’t know what to do so they have to make an attack. It’s their own insecurity. Their own fear of the truth.”