tv House Intelligence Chair Schiff at Christian Science Monitor CSPAN March 12, 2019 11:55pm-1:05am EDT
start here. good morning. i'm the washington bureau chief of theau christian science monitor. our guest today is the democratic representative adam schiff chen of the intelligence committee this is his sixth appearance worked in the u.s. attorney's office in los angeles before his election to the california state senate in 1990 elected to congress from california's 28th district he was named ranking member of the intelligence committee in 2015 and now the chair of the committee we are on the record here please, no live blogging
and ensure profiling of any kind while the breakfast is underway we will e-mail pictures and a rough transcript from the preface to the reporters here as soon as possible and and if you would like to as ask a questiond send me a signal and i will call on as many of you as time permits. now congressman if you would like to make brief opening remarks, the floor is yours. >> good morning it is a pleasure to join you again thanks for the meeting this morning.
i say that because of a couple of things it is the department's policy not to provide information to congress or the public about individuals who are not invited there is a fair amount of speculation as to whether he was voicing an opinion for things to come whether this was by the justice department in an interview recently given by two anonymous department of justice sources for abc in which the justice department sought to make the
case that if it chose not to provide these materials to congress that it would not be a double standard. if there was an extensive discovery to th congress duringv last session in the clinton e-mail investigation but the public interest didn't want us doing so when it came to that request made from the democratic congress on the same topic or more specifically on the investigation and they sought to distinguish the circumstances in two ways after the report is
submitted the underlining provision of evidence to congress could interfere with ongoing investigations carried on by other justice department was the further reason why it ought to adopt ao different policy than the one that it didt for the last two years. neither of the arguments in my view hold water. .. >> as of june 2018 more than
880,000 pages of discovery to congress can be attributable to jamesib comey, is absolutely insupportable. those documents were provided after he was fired and to suggest that is is doing is not a defense and also frankly underscores just how much james comey firing had to do with russia and how little it had to do w with discovery or statement he provided. i was notified at the directory on as the director testified in open session in response to subpoenas that all
postdated comey leaving the bureau they have provided those 880,000 documents and that discovery was ongoing. i would imagine that was discovered over 1 million pages at this point. so "this is it" something the department but i would hope decision of the department because of in the public interest and that outweighs normal policy of an investigation and but referring to peter and lee says and clinton and numerous other individuals the discovery was not the subject of indictment.
but to make that claim alsont that providing the underlying materials would affect the ongoing investigation cannot be used to prohibit wholesale discovery because the justice department did provide documents and very sensitive documents like the fisa application. that was not a bar to provide information to congress that there is another compelling reason why the justice department it will greatly facilitate our own investigation n not only to reinvent the wheel. it with new policy to deprive the congress of this evidence
they'll have to read grade everything the mueller investigation did. which is time-consuming and to some extent set on - - extent not entirely possible there is some evidence documents and materials we will not have access to. those searches that were conducted were others that were completely inaccessible to the degree that the originalgi materials go back to those the nonetheless the likelihood and in its totality given the history with those individuals and obstruction of
justice or failing to fully comply with theit subpoena in the past. the public interest compels this discovery in a matter of cwho controls the congress now the department shared stobviously to maintain investigative interest to provide materials to the congress and finally congress interest in the public interest is severely inhibited if we have to retrace all the steps from the mueller team
with far greater resources. that is what i wanted to start the morning off with and i'm'm happy to answer your questions be back i will kick it off then we will go around the table. so you mentioned speaker pelosi's comments on impeachment on cnn yesterday you said it would only make sense very graphic evidence can you provide incredible examples of what you or the team might earth that would be evidence to push us toward impeachment clicks for counting on him to come up with something i would say
that we have already seen deeply concerning evidence of the lack of fitness for office that the profound conflicts of interest guiding foreign policy as well as evidence of criminality on part of the president as it pertains to the direction and coordination of the finance team that there is evidence and testimony that by to give hush money checks and reimbursements to michael cohen. so how much more does congress need clicks and very graphic evidence and conflict of
interest i referred to the fact that a president was pursuing a business deal in russia at the moscow trump tower and concealing it from the public or from the kremlin to make thatl happen. and espousing a different policy toward russia at a time and all the money the trump family would make but the reality is that republican members of congress with you exceptions and then be unwilling to stand up to this president in any way.
that whether the congress will resist the efforts unto himself of more significant power next to the power to declare war it is the power of the purse. even greater than the power tonr declare war and very few republicans in the house with the constitutional act that remains to bee seen. there is very little willingness to even acknowledge the impropriety let alone the illegality of members of the g.o.p.
what is necessary to make an impeachment of a bipartisan process would be extraordinarily clear and compelling and then the that the impeachment becomes a partisan exercise to be doomed for failure the only thing worse putting the country through t the trauma of impeachment is the trauma of a failed impeachment. that it may be warranted that if the bar is set by very high by the constitution and the requirement of bipartisan support of the congress. . >> before i turn to the
reporters and with that collusion about president trump and with that collusion piece as i understand it is yourng focus. and how is that different from the ranking member on the committee clicks. >> i look at collusion as a category the interest of the committee and the origin of the investigation had to do with counterintelligence and compromise. if the trump campaign played any role with the russians it
is not only a crime that deeply compromising because themp russians could expose that their own time and place. if the trump business was doing any business with the russians or if anyone in the administration was deriving foreign funding for the inauguration or any other efforts that is in the category of compromise. and the reality is there is evidence of collusion in plain sight for some time and of course, as the weeks have gone on that has continued to mount. it has come up has come up
sequentially in pieces. and luca the russians reaching out to the form policy advisor that the russians have those stolene clinton e-mails and not long after in trump tower that was prefaced in writing by the government was helping the trump campaign with concessions and then with the lies about the meeting even more recent revelations about campaign chairman to provide polling data. or raw polling data to
somebody like the russian intelligence is evidence of collusion and communications between roger stone and wikileaks and the lies about those communications. this all goes to collusion. what i find equally troubling is the fact the president was trying to get from the russians during the campaign the moscow trump tower project hundreds of millions of dollars and it was concealed for the public.
a clear and present conflict of interest and danger to the country so why should i miss out on the business opportunity could i could've lost the election? so why should he miss out on the deal after he leaves office to make money from the russians. this would explain the behavior and to criticize everyone in the world with thela exception of vladimir putin we will add kim jung-un to the list. because they both represents the compromise the crime is
conspiracy we don't like the word collusion the bar should be simply whether the president has committed a crime and building a tower may not be a crime and directing foreign-policy o that was deeply antagonistic to national security. so to determine if there was sufficient evidence of a conspiracy that the president's policy is it is not indictable. and in terms of a prospective with the ranking member and those that that viewed their
job that was serving as the president's legal d defense team and does not persist into this session. looking at the way the government or the way the hearing went with the oversight committee it appeared the g.o.p. members were once again acting as surrogates for the president's defense team i cannot imagine with the g.o.p. members and then that commitment from the beginning. >> and the white house briefing and as a american
businesswoman to have access to the president it didn't come up in the briefing. the only speeches the president everything he does quick. >> first of all, whether the president is impeached or not, no. none of the president's comments or lack of ethics or lack of decency are okay. and i also think it is important to the issues or allegations of corruptionga to be investigated or exposed. we don't know the remedy in advance.
and with that corruption or allegations that they are selling influence out of massage parlors in florida ought to be looked into if there is corruption it should be exposed and if the individuals responsible seviolated laws that they need to be prosecuted. the challenge that we have with his press conference i and part of the reason you could not get to the question is they stopped press conferences. and it is a balance if you justcted them if you provide false information. but i do think there are a myriad of serious allegations
of propriety that members of the press have to deal with when we ask a question so the congress has to prioritize. we cannot look into everything but what are the most important things to look into? i keep coming back even though not an issue but as someone who cofounded the caucus and freedom of the press is near and dear to my heart and that is we actually learned the president secretly meeting with the postmaster general apparently to browbeat - - to browbeat to raise rates on amazon to go against jeff and "the washington post" and we got concern was the president seeking to hold up the merger of cnn as a way to punish cnn?
it was reported one week ago he instructed members of his staff to tell the justice department to hold up the merger. and if either allegation is true, that is the most formidable abuse of power and then to provide an example for despots around the world to bash their media the example that they are following that the president uses state power to punish the media. what does that rink next to our issues? so we are very much wrestling with that and doing our best to prioritize in the way it is necessary that you have to ask the white house questions and prioritize. >> to your left the daily
mail. >>e i think i see where you are going but it sounds like you say as part of the investigation with that massage parlor situation and what you hope to find? . >> as with most of these issues we are among the chairs of the leadership that where is this issue on the priority? is this an issue more than one committee should work jointly? sweat this point and don't have the answer to that question but we are interested
in more than russian influence. it is also a deep concern we have seen allegations of money being used to influence either the president or members of his family and regardless of the source and whether it is chinese trademarks or the proposed tallest building that only in all of europe, we have a sound interest to make sure it is not up to sales whoever offers the first family the most. >> obviously today it is
important that the houses voting this week on an ion line - - nonbinding resolution i know technically the judiciary isn'tal confirmed but why not binding if there appears to be bipartisan support to make that available to the congress my colleague introduce the measure that session but i will say that i am prepared certainly and i think my colleagues feel the same way that if the justice department or attorney general will withhold the report for whatever is necessary to make sure this information is not buried.
i would hope we can gather strong bipartisan support for this resolution talking about the resolutions but this is one area where agreement because we think the report and the underlying evidence should be provided to congress for as it pertains to the mall the report. so now this does not necessarily mean they will vote that way. you need to look no farther - - further than mitch mcconnell to see he is urging the president he should not declare an emergency with all the problems with that and how quickly he capitulated on that
veto but i would hope my colleagues would stay true to their convictions because what they do will not only have a great impact if the truth is ever fully told but on future congresses as well but on future congresses as well i have a three-part question relating to documents. do you have a sense we can expect to see the colin transports? second relating to open testimony for oversight of that conversation the president had with roger
stone? is your committee pursuing communications records to indicate whether such a call was made and you referred to documents that may be an accessible to you if congress were to do the investigation again. if the mother investigation is already done are you aware of specific documents that will not be accessible that you are referring to? . >> in terms of transcripts, we know making a decision about whether the witnesses we want to bring in on the topics discussed with mister :-colon if there would be any accuracy to the investigation if we were to release them before those otheros witnesses came before the committee.
so that would be our analysis in terms of timing. we would like to release those as soon as we are able but there could be evidence of the most transcripts but we could expose what we did for the investigative work. so i cannot give you an estimate on timing until we've had a chance to analyze the full content ofwo the transcriptsr. we had those two full days with mister :-colon who continues to cooperate so at this point i cannot give you a timing but we would like to release them as soon as we are able. in terms of the conversations that michael :-colon the conversation he overheard - - overheard with julian assange
of wikileaks that was very investigative thread we will be and have been pursuing documents that will allow us to corroborate that testimony. so that remains an important investigation. >> specifically records of that call? . >> i don't want to go into specifics but we will be looking atbe any documentary evidence there is a number of phone records to social media records to other documentary evidence. we will be seeking to approve or disapprove what people have testified to. finally coming in terms of evidence the justice
department may have that could very well beyond the reach of congress if they decide not to follow that precedent and to put that category with that cocategory obtained by the special counsel of the hard drives to be seized of other physical evidence and also to develop evidence when the special counsel can obtain for witnesses going to jail and also we could include in that category information and evidence of special counsel may have been able to take by having agents around the world. n something we do not have at their disposal.
i would imagine there would be broad categories of evidence that would be exceedingly difficult for congress to obtain that is now in possession from the special cou the special counsel. >> there has been a lot of republican talk about your time . . . . discredit michael cohen. the republican strategy and the intel committee seems to be why
weren't we present at the sessions and knowing of course when t they were running the investigation the first two years, they have all kind of context with witnesses and didn't have a problem with doing so. din fact dispatched their staff out of the country to interview witnesses without informing the minority. the reality in terms of my own communication i had a brief phone call with my staff and his attorneys to encourage him to testify voluntarily and to try to relay the concerns he had with the threats he was receiving from the president, from the president's allies in the congress and outsidend of te congress. we had a great desire to have him come in voluntarily not underna subpoena if it were necessary to subpoena him then there's always the risk the
witness decides not to cooperate to take the fifth we are not able to provide information pertinent to the investigation so that was the extent my communication i was on the pho phone. several republicans have pushed out a false narrative that i'd d spend infinite is simply not rue and they know it's not true but it makes for good commentary said they'vso they've pushed ous falsehood. but proper sessions are done in every credible investigation. i will point out the special counsel's office according to the open testimony had seven sessions undoubtedly far in excess of the staff that we had
into these are important when they are conducted, but a large part involved is reviewing the transcript withs prior testimon. >> jessica stone from chinese television. >> itelevision. >> it may not surprise you i have a question i'm wondering twofold if you've seen anything in your role at the committee not asking you to detail it but have you seen solid evidence that it's a threat not that it could be that it currently is in second i wanand second i want tr thoughts on the legislation and executive order talks. >> i have profound concerns and i do believe that it's a national security threat particularly if it becomes
integral and integrated into the network with that of our allies. we did a bipartisan investigation years ago and had to concern based on what we were able to learn. those concerns have only heightened over the years and while much of this i can't discuss publicly if a position to say no to the chinese government and knows it profitability to staying in favor of the chinese government so if data is routed through china or accessible through the technology and the government asks for a bath with no showing of no interest in privacy or
try to influence the american electorate to try to continue to divide the american electorate. we saw limited efforts at spearfishing into some of the campaigns. we did not see the kind of hacking into dumping of documents thatou we saw repeated in 2018. i don't think that reflects inle any way a change in russian behavior added to so much as the decision that the midterms are not as easy toas implement as te presidential and there was more to be gained by interference than risking the escalation of sanctions in advance of 2020 so i take no comfort from the fact
that it was less than 2016. i think we were enormously vulnerable in 2020 and one thing we can be certain of this under any estimation the russians will continue to seek to divide us to exacerbate the divisions that is really never stopped them they made no bones about it. you would be able to corroborate as truthful certain portions of
that had they done that in the weeks leading up to the election it would have been impossible to disprove it was engaged in the illegality. they would use far more disruptive impacts and i think psychologists will tell you even if you can disprove a fake video and show that it's a forgery, the negative impression and watching it leaves you a race that is mitigated the damage is partiallyge done and permitted. so the potential for
has done is to propagate the idea that there is no such thing as truth any more the kind of work every time she takes the podium where she tries to leave fiction into an alternate form of reality that is among the most corrosive act in terms of a democracy and an electorate that is being acclimated to the idea we are entitled to the different truths makes our democracy very vulnerable. there's been a lot of talk about the investigation and do you foresee bringing in donald trump
junior and are they witnesses to bring back from the first time and it separately what you want to talk with robert mueller in the committee when he's done with the investigation? >> in terms of witnesses we've brought forth in the committee in the past, we are examining that list as well as a great imany witnesses the republicans refuse to bring in the first place and the republicans scheduled his interview in new york at a time when we had votes so none of the members were able to the present and none of the members were able to evaluate the credibility of that with this. we obviously know more than we did the last time he was interviewed as well. we are going through the witness list to prioritize that obviously to determine which
witnesses need to be brought back when we start to get to the majority for answers they were unwilling which is a pretty good sign that they were not committed to following the facts and so some of those witnesses are certainly going to haveve to come back. we will be working with the other committees to determine which committees they come back to and whether in the way we are doing joint document requests wn might consider joint testimony. i don't know if that will be practical because of the size of the committees, but we are doing our best to coordinate our efforts particularly when they invoke thinvolve the jurisdictiy of the committees. i think that if the justice
department either attempts to conceal the report or the underlying evidence, then requiring him to testify may very well be necessary. to determine what the most appropriate venue would be there may be particular issues of interest and concern to the intelligence committee that are different from other committees. so we certainly wouldn't take that off the table. >> if donald trump isn't reelected should he be prosecuted and if so, for what? >> i think we could certainly
say from the indictment in the district of new york that identifies as having direct coordinated campaign schemes they urged michael coli cohen wd be sent to jail. and it's verthen it's very diffe the argument that the person who was directed and coordinated should go to jail but the person who did the directing and ocoordinating should not. i don't think that is a supportable position because that militateses very strongly n favor of inviting the president when he is out of office if the district of new york has the evidence to prove the case and given documentary evidence theid canceled checks, given the audiotapes, given the other
witnesses who are cooperating with the special counsel it certainly appears there is no shortage of evidence and so if the justice department takes the position that cannot indict a sitting president when they are no longer sitting, then i think it has to consider they should hold a president to a different standard than everyone else the justice department argued in the case that it was very important to establish the rich and powerful did not operate by different set of rules it isn't simply something for the less rich or powerful and that
argument applies with a an even greater force than it did with michael cohen obviously, so i think that also militates in favor of making sure the donut escapes to the united states. i'm sure that it's occurred to the president is a prospect he may be indicted when he leaves office and the longer he stays in office and is able to avoid the statute of limitations by remaining in office it is a hasn'tration that escaped him. when we look at the prior opinions under a president can
be indicted they devote most of the argumentation as to whether a president can be prosecuted in office because of the degree to which it would interfere in his or her duties to appear in court and go through the whole process. >> very little time is spent on the actual indictment and the difficult prosecution and the argument is made against chavez simply a reputationa reputationt would place a stigma over the president. that stigma is already there by virtue of the indictment in the southern district of new york because it means the president as an unindicted co-conspirator. that intangible interest, the difference that is built between naming a president as a co-conspirator and the difference in that reputational impact compared to the risks that they could escape justice
by weeding out the statute of limitation i think militates strongly against the department policy. >> i do not know offhand what it would be for the variety that may be in theig campaign-finance scheme. >> jessica mendoza from the science monitor. >> back to the idea that you talked about earlier with fake news and credibility, i'm curious how do you make sure any congressional investigation is perceived as credible to have an impact or big enough impact and how do you measure the impact of any that you conduct? >> that is a very good question, and a dot appears next to
impossible in the house. i think the public got to see in the open hearing with michael cohen in a way that it couldn't see was obviously the closed hearing before thelo intel committee the radically different perspectives the parties have or the degree to which the republican party has decided to go all in defending the conduct and if the gop decides that its agenda on taxes or judges or anything else is simply more important than it constitutional responsibility or
the truth of the ethics or morality there is very little that the party could do about it for compelling the gop to work in a bipartisan way. so it's very difficult and it needs to be transparent and compelling and very graphic because otherwise it's very difficult to gain broad public consensus around the findings of the investigation. is there an there any way you ct ensure that it would be compelling but in terms of transparency of the process it makes it sound as if no matter what democrats do, if
republicans are not on board. >> i think being as transparent as we can for that reason we are going to be doing as much and open session in our investigation asur we can we wil do the interview in closed session but we are trying to weigh the investigative impacts as i mentioned about the release of the transcript with the need for transparency to see what's going on. now the public got to watch the testimony and that is beneficial andal it could evaluate how the parties are approaching this. both parties equally interested in the evidence to offer in finding cooperation or being tile to prove or disprove or
different motivations, so that i think is valuable but our goal ought to be is to find the facts as many as we can and then presents them to the public. it's not our job to prove the president guilty of x. or y.. it's to find out the truth and make it public whichever way you cut and so thought i would anticipate in terms of our final product is what we found and the public will have to trawl its conclusions about what those facts mean. that is what we ought to aim to do if we can do that regardless of whether the gop wishes to work with us or not. >> one more final question at
the end of the table. >> is there a timeline of topics and some of which the committee hasn't investigated before is it possible in your mind this is something that continues on beyond the next two years potentially beyond the trump presidency? >> a loss will be impacted as was mentioned before by the degree to which the justice department may but they did about miller all over again so it's how much they are willing to share. there were certain areas that the justicet department though and bob mueller may have not
investigated at all and probably the most significant example is the issue of money laundering. were they laundering money in the trump organization and thosa that leverage what they have over the president. maybe he's looked into that and maybe he hasn't, but there may be areas that represent a potential compromise but have not been investigated by anyone because they try to draw a red line around it and say thou shall not look at this. so, it won't be completely dependent on the level of forthcoming but it will be substantially impacted by that. i don't want to put a timeline on it except to say that we feel a sense of urgency about it. we've always felt a sense of urgency about it.
we don't control the timing completely the request for documents makes clear and they continue to fight congressionall oversight and likely stonewall it to the maximum degree. there was a very maximalist position that the white house seok in answer to the legitimate oversight questions by the congress. if, for example on the issue of security clearances which we have an interest as well as the oversight committee, the white house tries to hide behind the generic answer we don't discuss security clearances as a way of avoiding having to answer the question that the president
overrule the intelligence community and his own advisers and give his daughter and son-in-law clearance but they shouldn't c have received the administration has stonewalled the special counsel and refused to provide interviews and simultaneously attacked the counsel's office and given the attacks made for the direct parallel to those made in the special counsel, we could expect the same treatment.
fluctuated since he was reelected as president and public opinion data in russia shows the majority now don't want to believe they want change they want a better economic situation and then they understand with this antagonistic relationship with the west is not the way to go to have economic growth. >> tragically i had no expectations from 2019 with this war in afghanistan and the way it has been escalated every year the countless lives wasted and the continuous suffering.