tv Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff CSPAN June 15, 2018 12:52am-1:10am EDT
the head of the selective service said publicly that they felt they were under attack. i think clearly, you can draw a line from what they did to the draft ending in 1973. announcer: sunday at 8:00 eastern on c-span's "q&a." announcer: now, the lead democrat on the house intelligence committee adam schiff talks about the recent u.s.-north korea summits, the mueller investigation, and the 2016 presidential campaign. he sat down with mike allen of axioms. -- of axioms. i am going to describe a public figure and you're going to tell me who it is. mr. schiff: oh, no. mike: one. very talented. two, very smart guy. three, great negotiator. mr. schiff: yes. well, sadly, that's trump's
description of kim jong un. you know what a surreal world you're in when that's the description of the north korean dictator. weak, obnoxious, and dishonest is the description we give the canadian prime minister. mike: what do you make of that? what is the consequence of that? as we would say, why does that matter? mr. schiff: well -- what do i make of that? i make that we are at greater odds with our allies now than ever before in my lifetime. mike: but what does that mean? what's the consequence of that for our guests? mr. schiff: i think the consequence is that our security is weakened. our alliances are weakened. when we need our allies, there is less likelihood that they will respond in kind because we have ridiculed them. we have condemned them at times. we have insulted their leadership. and we have essentially told them that we don't value those alliances as we used to. that we're more interested in cozying up to despotic regimes,
that we have nothing but disdain for some of our closest partners and that you may get away with when you don't need them immediately, but when you do, that's a real problem. mike: congressman, you're a frequent tweeter and you're a memorable review of the similarity. you said, one trip and it's mission: accomplished. mr. schiff: yes. this was the president coming back from korea saying that we can all sleep well now. nuclear problem solved. it's one thing to have a nuclear armed korea as a threat to the united states. it's another danger to the country to have an extraordinarily naive president. and if this president thinks that we can now sleep better, it's problem solved, that's preposterous. and interestingly the president contrasts how we felt last year. well, we were worried last year because the president was threatening nuclear war with north korea. and, yes, we would rather have him talking to the north korean regime than we would comparing the size of our -- nuclear
buttons. but a vague promise for future denuclearization undefined is not much of a security guarantee and we gave up, i think, a great deal to obtain even that. mike: the fact that the president uses the north korean's own language to describe these joint exercises, which are in our interest, war games, provocative, this is how north korea likes to describe them, this is how china likes to describe them. and to adopt basically the language of our adversaries tells me that far from being a good negotiator, that the president is in fact a terrible negotiator. he may be good at marketing himself, but in terms of negotiating on behalf of our interests, he's done a terrible job. mike: so those of you tweeting along, #axios360you're saying the president's deal isn't what it's cracked up to be? mr. schiff: apparently it's just the art of marketing and marketing doesn't make you safer. we still have a dangerous nuclear armed north korea but we
have one now that has -- that faces a weakened sanctions regime because china has decided to relax sanctions as a way of making sure north korea doesn't vary too far from the chinese orbit. russia similarly has relaxed sanctions as a way of making our lives difficult. and so the north korean position is elevated, the north korean president now has put himself on the par with u.s. president. for people in north korea, those that are suffering in the gulags and others that are suffering other kinds of deprivation all throughout north korea, they now look at the president and his actions have been ratified by the president of the united states. who calls him a smart guy and a tough guy and did he what he had to do and never mind all these people in the gulag and never mind the family members he had to execute. that's all ok, according to our president. mike: on twit you are said, and yet -- twitter you said, and yet republicans stay silent. behind the scenes, when you're talking to republican members in the gym or in the cloakroom, what do they say about it?
mr. schiff: the most shocking things that i hear from time to time, you know, as leader of one of the investigations involving russia, i will hear sometimes my republican colleagues, even senior republican colleagues, say, keep doing what you're doing. now, this is a heresy. but the fact that they privately view it as important that someone is holding the president accountable, but they can't do it themselves, is very telling. it's also telling that the only republicans apparently willing to speak out are those not running for re-election. there is, i think, a real craven quality to the silence from the g.o.p. they recognize what this president is doing is destructive. they recognize the threat that he poses to our system of checks and balances. but they don't want to speak out. and now that they see what happened to mark sanford, they'll be even less likely to speak out. at what level, i suppose you can understand it, it's a pure political calculus. if the president craters then
perhaps they crater with him. they lose their majority, chairmanships. but another level, it's utterly inexplicable. because what's the point of being there if when the country needs you you're not willing to stand up, you're not willing to speak out, you're not willing to defend even the rule of law, then why be there? i think when this chapter is written, it will be harshly condemning of the president and it will hold criticism for the g.o.p. congress. mike: you've talked about the lack of real oversight, checks and balances by republicans. how will that change if in january democrats control the house? by the way, what do you think is the likelihood of that? mr. schiff: well, i think at this point it's very likely. mike: what, 70%, 60% chance? mr. schiff: i don't know if i could give it a percentage. but i would certainly say if the election were held today, the house would flip. mike: then what would happen? what would change as far as oversight checks and balances? mr. schiff: a lot of would change. first, policy priorities would very much change.
we'd do everything we could to end this practice of dividing children from their parents at the border. we would be focused on trying to improve people's ability to put bread on their table. deal with these very disruptive changes to our economy that are the result of initially globalization, but now far more a result of automation. we would be working to make sure that we're protecting people's access to health care, not taking it away by attacking the protections for people with pre-existing conditions. but in addition to what we would be affirmatively doing as a policy matter, the congress of the united states would be back in the oversight business. we'd be back in the business of providing a check and balance on the unrestrained power mike: what does that mean? what are you going plunge into first? mr. schiff: it means a whole host of things. to give you one illustration. two weeks ago the president of the united states abruptly changed course on sanctions over z.t.e. this chinese telecom. mike: and a company that house intelligence committee report in 2012 was one of the first to sound the alarm.
mr. schiff: yes. finding it was an espionage threat. something our intelligence agencies concur with. moreover, this is a company that's violated sanctions on north korea and iran and lied to us about it. and in a tweet, because this is how we operate now, by twitter, the president reversed course inexplicably, saying in a tweet, i'm going to reconsider this deal because i'm concerned about chinese jobs. now, that made no sense whatsoever. and so what's the explanation for this abrupt change of course on z.t.e.? it could be one of three things. it could be, number one, that he's in fact the worst negotiator in the world and he's giving china something they desperately want, even before the negotiation is complete. before we negotiate, i'm going to give this away. number two, it could be that he was so desperate for a deal with north korea that he's willing to give china anything, if china
will simply not create a problem in terms of the negotiation with north korea. yet another signal to the kim regime that this president needs a deal, having walked out of the iran deal, more than kim does. which is another huge problem. or the third possibility is china decided at the same time to invest $500 million in a trump property in indonesia. now, which of these three explanations is the accurate one, or is it some combination of the three? you have subpoena? >> we could find up. what is the answer. we could do oversight of this transaction that rarely got attention because in a world where so many bad things are happening every day with this administration, and there's so many allegations of corruption, how do you keep track of them all? so we would look into that. mike: how aggressive will you be with your -- because you can look into emails, budgets, you can call for testimony, right? like, how aggressive, intrusive, would you say you're going to
be? mr. schiff: i think in order to protect the public we need to begin with hearings on these issues and see whether there's any there there. if you look also at something just within the last couple of weeks that barely got attention, it was revealed that the president was secretly meeting with the postmaster general to brow beat her into raising postal rates on amazon as a way of punishing jeff bezos and "the washington post," another attack on the free press. we should have a hearing with the postmaster general to find out, is that what happened? what were those discussions like, what is the argument the president was making for raising rates on amazon? and find out whether the president is taking actions inconsistent with the first amendment. mike: three examples, what's a third area or a third official that you would love to see come testify? something else that you want to pull back the curtain on? mr. schiff: you could probably have any number of hearings on
the decimation of the state department, on scott pruitt any day of the week. but in our committee, in the intel committee, and vis-a-vis the russia investigation, one issue that i'm very concerned has not been investigated in congress is the issue of money laundering. that is, were the russians laundering money through the trump organization? is this the leverage the russians have over the president of the united states? to me that is far more potentially compromising that he any salacious video. mike: do you believe that happened? mr. schiff: i don't know. mike: you think it's possible? mr. schiff: it's certainly possible. we know that the trump organization had deep difficulty getting any legitimate financing from u.s. banks. the only bank that would do business with them, because of their business practices, was deutsche bank.
which was fined hundreds of millions of dollars by the state of new york for laundering russian money. we also know that even according to the president's own sons, they were getting a ton of money from russia. a disproportionate share of their assets. and when you look at the trump properties of money laundering. so i think for us to gamble and not know with the nation's security, is this what's driving this affinity for vladimir putin and russia? or is it something else? i think we ought to find out. so we can tell the country, it's true or it's not true. mike: the house intelligence committee democrats, the minority, continues their russia investigation, you're continuing to bring witnesses, you continue to obtain documents. what's the most important thing for you still to learn that you don't yet know? mr. schiff: you're right. what happened about two months ago was not a cessation of the russia investigation. merely a cessation of the republican participation in it. and the one area that we were
charged to investigate, the republicans decided they would rather not know. so they stopped their work on that. but the democratic minority, we continue to bring our witnesses. about half of the witnesses that we invite show receptivity to becoming before the committee, even without the participation of the g.o.p. mike: what about the other half? mr. schiff: they'll have to be subpoenaed. mike: so you plan to do that? mr. schiff: we certainly would if we had the subpoena power now. in terms of what we'll do if and when we take back the majority, we'll have to look at what's been done in the senate intelligence committee, we'll have to look at what's been done by bob mueller. and assess what remains to be done. but this was the problem even when the majority was working on the investigation. that is, they wouldn't subpoena unwilling witnesses. and the witnesses we did have come in when they refused to answer questions, they wouldn't subpoena them to compel them to answer questions. that's not much of an investigation. mike: so the investigation for sure is going to continue into the new year? mr. schiff: it will depend on what bob mueller's been able to do. and whether bob mueller's been
able to finish the job. so i think we should reserve judgment on what more will be necessary until we see what more has already been done. mike: it sounds like if you get the majority, if you have subpoena power, it sounds like there's people you want to hear from, that you haven't heard from, you plan to pursue that? mr. schiff: there's certainly people i want to hear from that you can't do a complete investigation without hearing from. if however they've been interviewed by bob mueller, if bob mueller has already been able to draw conclusions on certain issues, that will weigh very heavily in whether we think that needs further investigation. but there may be certain matters, and money laundering may very well be one of them, where even bob mueller has not looked into it. because he's not been given the scope. now, i don't know that that's the case. i would hope that bob mueller is investigating the issue of money laundering. what i learned as a federal prosecutor is you follow the money. but the president has done everything possible to deter bob mueller from doing that by trying to draw a red line. i don't think the president has
any right to draw any red lines and i think they should be ignored. if it arises within the russia investigation, it ought to be investigated. mike: last question. you mentioned you were the u.s. attorney in los angeles, as a former federal prosecutor, someone who is watching the mueller investigation from what you've seen, from what you know, from what you read, what is the most likely outcome? mr. schiff: i was an assistant u.s. attorney. i don't want to give myself a promotion in hindsight. i think we're likely to see a couple of things. we're likely to see further indictments. in the last indictment, the special counsel indicted 13 russians over their social media campaign. and its interference in our election. but there was no mention, no discussion of the russian hacking and dumping operation. that was something we knew more
about earlier than even the social media campaign. so why would bob mueller leave that out of the indictment? i think that was probably left out of the last indictment because that part of the conspiracy either involves u.s. persons, that's the issue of collusion, or you haven't finished the investigation as to whether it should include u.s. persons. but i think that indictment is coming. it's just a question of whether it's russians only or russians and americans. i would also expect that we will get a report on other issues, the justice department will get a report. from bob mueller. it may be on both collusion and obstruction of justice, it may be on other issues as well. and this is where rob rosenstein comes in and he's a very important figure. it will be his decision whether that report is shared with congress, where it's shared with the public, or whether it's buried. i think it should be shared with the public. it certainly need to be shared with congress. i think bob mueller, there's no constitutional bar to an indictment of a sitting president. but i would think even if the evidence rises to that level, he's more likely to present that evidence to the justice department than seek an
indictment and ask 12 lay jurors somewhere to decide the fate of the republic. mike: we promised we'd get out to church on time or at least to the hill. so just 30 seconds, you have a great summer tradition with your son, now 15 years old, a road trip, sometimes a train trip, right? what's coming up this summer? mr. schiff: we were just having that conversation over dinner last night. i think we're going to go visit a friend at an army base at fort irwin. we may head off to nearby vegas for a couple of days and then not be able to tell you what happened. then we're thinking about climbing a mountain. i'm trying to find one that's not too steep. mike: congressman schiff, thank you very much for joining axios. thank you so very much. >> more now. we would hear from federal adications commission chair g8 pie we spoke about the future of the internet.