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tv   House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff News Conference on the...  CSPAN  April 18, 2019 9:03pm-9:21pm EDT

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we have another hour we will be taking phone calls and getting your reaction to the mueller report. reminder that tomorrow morning on "washington journal" beginning at 7:00 a.m. we will continue this conversation on the release of the mueller report. there has been reaction from around the country. congress is not in session. the head of the intelligence committee in the house, adam schiff, we caught up with him in california. here's what he had to say. rep schiff: good afternoon. i spent much of this morning as
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indeed many did around the country reviewing the mueller report or those sections that were not redacted. i would like to share with you some early observations from what i have been able to read so far. reported sometime ago as the intelligence community disclosed as well, there was an extensive campaign by the russians who interfered in our elections in 2016. that interference took many forms. most significantly, it took the form of an effort through social media to divide the country and push out favorite narratives to assist the trump campaign on social media through massive efforts led by the internet research agency out of st. petersburg. it also embarked on an effort to hack and dump emails from the democratic campaign of hillary johnon, campaign manager podesta, and other efforts through the hacking and dumping
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operation to influence the outcome of the election. these efforts were designed to help donald trump and hurt hillary clinton. there were also efforts through any number of meetings between russians and trump campaign people to exert influence -- covert influence operations mounted by the russians that continued during the campaign as well as after the campaign. i want to make several points about these findings, from what we can tell so far. general didttorney a great disservice to the country by misrepresenting significant parts of the mueller put a by attempting to positive spin for the president on the special counsel's findings. the attorney general is not the president's personal lawyer, although he might feel he is. he is supposed to be the highest law enforcement officer in the land and represent the interests
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of the american people. when the american attorney general gives the look that the president completely cooperated and he didn't, that they provided all of the materials and they didn't, when the president deprived the special counsel of the single most important piece of evidence, his own verbal testimony. that misleads the american people. when the attorney general represents on the obstruction case or suggests the special counsel desired him to make that decision that the special counsel wasn't mindful of the office of legal counsel opinion that a special counsel cannot indict a sitting president when the attorney general characterizes the report in that way. he does a disservice to the country. out about theeap substantive allegations on obstruction of justice and the issue of conspiracy. on the issue of obstruction of
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justice, the report outlines multiple attempts by the president to mislead the country. to interfere with the investigation. to make false statements to the american people and urge others to lie to the american people. to urge those of his staff to take actions to further obstruct the investigation, which may have been refused but they were not refused to any goodwill or good motive on the president's part to the contrary. these actions had a material impact on the investigation. in fact, the special counsel was or ated of information least the timely access to that information as a result of things the president did and said. it made our jobs that much more difficult, as it did the special counsel's investigation. obstruction of justice, whether they are criminal or not are deeply alarming. it is clear the special counsel
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wanted the congress to consider the repercussions and the consequences. it is clear the special counsel believed no one was above the law and that includes the president of the united states. general'sey actions would make the president above the law. if the special counsel found evidence he would have said so, he left that decision to the congress of the united states and we will need to consider it. as i have said all along, each of the acts i enumerated, each of the meetings is not only spelled out in this report, corroborated in this report with additional contacts are also itemized. it gives us more information in the public knew between the
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trump campaign and russians whether they rise to the level of criminal conspiracy. the special counsel makes it clear he did not consider collusion as a term is understood. rather whether the facts amounted to the crime of conspiracy. on that issue, in fact in the case of the trump tower meeting, he found that why though -- while there was evidence he could not established two parts of the crime that don jr. accepted the help of russian help but he could not establish with admissible evidence either the willful intent by kushner or don jr. or manafort to violate the law or that the material they received was sufficiently damaging to meet the statutory definition. that is a far cry from saying there is no evidence. that is the special counsel's determination that notwithstanding the evidence on this issue involving trump tower and other interactions like the provision of polling data by manafort which we have learned
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today was far more ongoing than we knew, that the special counsel could not establish a criminal conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt and to the satisfaction of a jury. these are the overall conclusions. let me just say to sum up and i will be happy to go to your questions, as i said some time ago, whether these acts are criminal or not, whether the obstruction of justice was criminal or not, or whether these contacts were sufficiently illicit or not to rise to the level of criminal conspiracy, they are unquestionably dishonest, unethical, immoral, and unpatriotic and should be like condemned by every american. that is not the subject of vindication. that is the subject of condemnation. that is how i think we should view the mueller report i am happy to go to your questions. >> [indiscernible]
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mr. schiff: there are sections certainly that are redacted in the report, that go to facts that are not being presented to the public that would shed light on additional illicit contacts or the nature of those contacts between the russians and trump campaign. other sections that are almost completely redacted go to the prosecutorial judgment. and that is when the special counsel looked at the evidence of conspiracy on these particular incidents, and particular wiki leaks and the disclosure of that information, the contacts between the trump campaign and wikileaks, the sections on the exercise of that prosecutorial judgment, why the special counsel concluded what the council did had been largely redacted. and we need to know that information. we will be seeking a complete and unredacted report so that we can do our proper oversight. one other matter that is
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important to point out, and that is that as the special counsel makes clear in the report, the counter intelligence findings are not completely included in this report. that in fact there were fbi agents embedded in the team who were looking at the issue of compromise or counterintelligence. and that some of that information is not included. others may be included but redacted.
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our committee has requested that mueller testify, we want to understand what was found in terms of any counterintelligence efforts, efforts by the russians to make use of u.s. persons, particularly those affiliated with the trump campaign as witting or unwitting agents of the russian government. >> the president tweeted out, game over. is it game over? has your opinion about articles changed at all based on what you read today? rep. schiff: well, it is certainly not game over in the sense that there is a lot more we need to know that is redacted in this report. again, this report only goes to what is criminal or not criminal. other actions that may have compromised the president or others around him may or may not be even included in the report. in the interest of making sure our policy is driven by the best interest of the country, and not by the personal or financial interest of the president or anyone around him, we need to find out the answers to that. but we will be guided by the good investigative work the special counsel has done. it is not our intention to redo all of the painstaking work the special counsel has conducted. indeed, it would not be possible for us to do so. the special counsel had at his access a bevy of fbi agents, subpoenas, grand jury's, etc. that we do not have advantage of. this is one of the reasons why it is so important for the congress to obtain this information so that we do not have to re-create the wheel. it is important to note that the facts that are now established by this report are damming.
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whether they could or should have resulted in the indictment of the president or people around him, they are damming. and we should call for better from our elected officials. the standard cannot simply be that you can do anything you like as long as you can declare at the end of the day, i am not a crook. that is not the ethical standard the american people expect in their president. >> kellyanne conway has called for you to step down as chairman. she said you should produce the evidence you say he has. what do you say to that? rep. schiff: kellyanne conway clearly has not read the report because if she had, she would see the facts that have been alluded to are not only spelled out, but spelled out in greater detail than i have. look, this is coming from someone who invented alternate facts and apparently she has continued to cling to her alternate facts. >> has robert mueller responded to your invitation to testify? rep. schiff: we have made two
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requests of the special counsel. first we made the request for the counter intelligence findings in the underlying evidence. it is important to understand that the justice department has a statutory obligation to provide us with counterintelligence or foreign intelligence. they are required to provide that. some of that is documentary evidence. but we have also asked for his physical testimony. we have not received a response yet. the attorney general did say during his press conference today that he would not oppose that and we will fully expect them to comply with both of those requests. >> [indiscernible] rep. schiff: in terms of barr, i think he has done a deep disservice to the country and frankly, he should never have never been confirmed without committing to recusing himself from this entire investigation. as we all know, he applied for the job by writing a 19 page legal memo setting out why he thought an obstruction case
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against the president would not lie, that it was a bogus theory, and he made good on that job application and what he did today and has done thus far. i think it was a grave error to confirm him without requiring his recusal. as far as beyond that, i do not want to comment. >> how would you describe your thoughts on [indiscernible] is that a disservice as well? where do you stand on that? rep. schiff: it certainly is a disservice to the country and to getting to the bottom of the facts of the president was unwilling to do what he said he would. not the first time the president has reneged on a commitment. it is one thing to ask for written answers to questions. you then get the lawyers answers, you get rudy giuliani's answers or jay sekulow's answers , you don't get the president's answers. when you have the opportunity to interview someone in person, you have the opportunity to default questions and get the truth. that was not allowed to happen. as i suspected and i have said
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while this was going on, i thought it was a mistake not to subpoena the president, but as i expected, the special counsel did set out his considerations and i think foremost among them was the president would fight it, he would have to litigate it and that would lengthen his investigation. i think it means the american people were deprived of important information. >> [indiscernible] rep. schiff: we need to look at the full report. certainly what bob mueller has revealed on the obstruction of justice issue is the most concerning. because that of course involves the president's own conduct. his own falsehood to the american people. his efforts to get other people to tell lies. his effort to deter people from cooperating with the investigation. his effort to reward those who stuck to the party line.
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all of which bill barr ignored in his press conference today. all of that is damming conduct by the president of the united states. i think we need some time to let this sink in and understand the full repercussions for the country of having a president who lies to the country, who misleads the country, who urges others to do so, and frequently on a daily basis. but most significantly, when it concerns an investigation into russian interference in our election. this was an attack on american sovereignty. this was an attack on american democracy. and that a president would not only not cooperate with it, but would tell repeated falsehoods, and would not sit down and allow the special counsel to ask questions, would in the helsinki take vladimir putin's word over his own intelligence agencies, all of that needs to be considered by the congress and
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the country in terms of what it means about the president of the united states. thank you. >> that is all the time we have for. thank you so much. >> that is all we have time for. thank you for all your flexibility today. that was house intelligence committee chair adam schiff in california earlier today. now it is your turn. i don't know if you have spent the day reading the report were just tuning in tonight, or watching the cable news all day long talking about this. we want to get your reaction. the numbers are on the screen. let's begin with robert in texas on the independent line. robert, have you had the chance to digest any of the report today? i'm having trouble understanding the responsibility
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and duties of the attorney general under the constitution. appointed by the president, is he considered to be the lawyer of the president or the lawyer for the people and congress? if the president is the one under investigation, why was the white house given the mueller report prior to congress? good question. unfortunately our two lawyers have left. otherwise we would give that question to them. i would like to say that i think this is a witchhunt against the president. i think the mueller report will exonerate him. i think he has done more for this country than any president since fdr. he has

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