‘Sense of urgency’ on whistleblower complaint will drive subpoenas, says Schiff


JUDY WOODRUFF: Earlier today, I spoke with
Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House
Intelligence Committee, which held this morning’s
hearing.
I began by asking if today’s testimony gives
him a better understanding of how the Trump
administration handled the whistle-blower’s
complaint against the president.
REP.
ADAM SCHIFF: Well, it did.
And it raised profound concerns that a process
that was meant to allow a whistle-blower to
provide information to Congress broke down.
And it broke down on the advice of White House
counsel and the Department of Justice.
Considering that the complaint involved activity,
misconduct by the president, considering that
Bill Barr himself was implicated in the complaint,
the idea that a director would go to those
two sources for guidance in whether this complaint
needed to be provided to Congress shows, I
think, the most direct conflict of interest.
And that meant this complaint was withheld
weeks after it should have been turned over
to Congress.
And it was being withheld at a time when the
president was still withholding military aid,
vital military assistance to Ukraine.
So we have a problem here, but , of course,
the far broader problem is that we have a
president who has tried to leverage the power
of his office to pressure a foreign government
into helping in yet another U.S. presidential
election, this time by manufacturing different
dirt on a different opponent.
And we’re determined to fully get to the bottom
of this.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So do you have evidence that
this was all suppressed deliberately to protect
the president?
REP.
ADAM SCHIFF: Well, that certainly was the
goal of White House counsel, and it was certainly
the goal, I think, of the Justice Department.
After all, when you read that tortured opinion
of the Justice Department, it says that the
director of national intelligence has no jurisdiction
when it comes to foreign election interference.
Well, that’s absurd.
The Justice Department also said, essentially,
there’s nothing to see, we’re not going to
investigate it, even while it’s said that
the inspector generals don’t have jurisdiction
to investigate.
So I certainly believe the White House and
the Department of Justice are complicit in
trying to keep this from Congress.
In terms of the director, look, I strongly
disagree with his decision, but I respect
his career of service to the country.
At the same time, when Congress says that
something shall be provided to Congress, we
mean it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, when — you mentioned the
White House counsel.
You mentioned the attorney general.
Are you going to be calling them to testify
before the committee, and who else in the
administration?
REP.
ADAM SCHIFF: Well, I don’t want to get into
our witness list.
I can tell you that the whistle-blower has
given us detailed and credible allegations,
a road map, if you will, as to how to find
out the contours of this presidential misconduct.
That is, what happened before this call, what
happened after this call, who knows the rationale
that was given for withholding this bipartisan
support to Ukraine?
What about these allegations that this record
of call was sequestered away to a computer
that’s usually used for the most sensitive
information, like covert action by the intelligence
community, and that there might be other things
that have been similarly sequestered away,
not for reasons of classification, but for
reasons of concealing presidential misconduct.
So, we know what we need to do to get to the
bottom of this.
And we are going to move with all expedition
to do so.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And subpoena individuals, if
necessary?
REP.
ADAM SCHIFF: I have no doubt that that will
be necessary.
And we’re not fooling around.
We don’t have a long time to ask people for
compliance and then subpoena them and go through
contempt proceedings.
We are going to move very quickly to compulsion
if we’re told that there’s no willingness
to cooperate, because we feel a sense of urgency
here.
One thing that I think really leapt out about
the hearing today is that no one, not the
director, nor anyone else, disputed the whistle-blower’s
complaint was urgent, that it was credible,
that it needed to be investigated.
And, as the Department of Justice is out of
the business, apparently, of investigating
wrongdoing, if it involves Donald Trump, that
is, and the inspector generals can’t do it,
then that is left to us to do.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Chairman Schiff, now that you
have been named head of House of Representatives’
move to impeachment insofar as Ukraine is
involved, can you give us an understanding
of how that moves forward?
Is that now going to be the main focus of
the impeachment investigation?
REP.
ADAM SCHIFF: Well, it is certainly going to
be our main focus in the Intelligence Committee.
And I think there’s a general sense among
the members of our caucus that this is, at
its core, the most serious allegation, that
it was bad enough and serious enough when
the president of the United States, as a candidate,
sought help from a foreign power in a U.S.
presidential election, that it was more serious
still when, as president, he used the powers
of the office to obstruct the investigation
into his own misconduct.
But it is still a more serious order of magnitude
when the president of the United States uses
the power of his office to badger a foreign
president into manufacturing dirt in another
U.S. presidential election.
I think we all understand the seriousness
of that.
And I think it’s certainly the priority of
our caucus that this be the top priority,
that we do our very best to get all the facts,
and that we do so as quickly as possible.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just to be clear, then,
this investigation into the whistle-blower
is now folded into the impeachment investigation?
REP.
ADAM SCHIFF: It is certainly being conducted
under the umbrella of an impeachment inquiry.
And that is that this may form the basis of
an article or articles of impeachment.
No decision has obviously been made to go
forward.
And that is a decision that we will make when
we’re more in possession of all the facts.
But the facts that we do have already are
pretty damning.
And what took place before this intersection
before the two presidents and what took place
after, we still need to flesh out.
But what we do already know, what has already
been admitted to, I believe, is a clear violation
of the president’s oath of office.
It will be for the caucus to decide, when
we have the full facts, whether we should
proceed with an article of impeachment.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, do you believe
that any impeachment effort has to be bipartisan
in order to be credible?
REP.
ADAM SCHIFF: Well, I’m regretfully of the
view that, at least based on performance to
date, members of the GOP do not stand willing
to confront this president, no matter how
repugnant his conduct, no matter how much
his conduct may transgress the law or the
Constitution.
I hope that changes.
I hope that changes.
But I think that we cannot defer to the other
party here, if they have abdicated their responsibility.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Adam Schiff, chairman of the
House Intelligence Committee, thank you very
much.
REP.
ADAM SCHIFF: Thank you.

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