Schiff Will ‘Haul People Before Congress’ If Necessary; Won’t Rule Out Impeachment

By Susan Jones | March 25, 2019 | 5:36am EDT
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

( - Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the head of the House intelligence committee, said on Sunday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller may not have had enough evidence to prosecute President Trump, "but that doesn't mean, of course, that there isn't compelling and incriminating evidence that should be shared with the American people."

And he intends to "haul people before the Congress" to get answers.

Schiff, a leading congressional critic of President Trump, told ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos that "there's a difference between compelling evidence of collusion and whether the special counsel concludes that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the criminal charge of conspiracy.

“And as I've said before, George, I leave that decision to Bob Mueller, and I have full confidence in him. And I think, frankly, the country owes Bob Mueller a debt of gratitude for conducting the investigation as professionally as he has.

“So I -- I have trust his prosecutorial judgment but that doesn't mean, of course, that there isn't compelling and incriminating evidence that should be shared with the American people.”

Schiff said that six people "close to the president" have been indicted: "That hardly looks like vindication to me. But again, let's see what the report has to say. If they're so confident that the report is going to exonerate them, they should fight to make that report and the underlying evidence public and available to Congress.

“But I suspect that we'll find those words of transparency to prove hollow, that in fact they will fight to make sure that Congress doesn't get this underlying evidence,” Schiff said.

“But we are going to take it as far as necessary to make sure that we do. We have an independent obligation to share the facts with the American people. We in the intelligence committee have a particular obligation to determine whether there is evidence, whether the president may be compromised in any way, whether that is criminal or not, and of course there are indications he was pursuing money in Russia through Trump Tower and other potential real estate that could be deeply compromising."

Schiff said his committee will ask administration officials -- presumably Attorney General William Barr and others-- to appear before his committee. "If the request is denied, subpoena," he said. "If subpoenas are denied, we will haul people before the Congress. And yes, we will prosecute in court as necessary to get this information."

Schiff said it was a “mistake" to allow President Trump to respond in writing to the special counsel. "If you really do want the truth, you need to put people under oath. And that should is have been done, but the special counsel may have made the decision that, as he could not indict a sitting president on the obstruction issue, as it would draw out his investigation, that that didn't make sense."

(Notably, the FBI did not put Hillary Clinton under oath when agents questioned her about her "extremely careless" handling of emails, as former FBI Director James Comey put it.)

Schiff refused to rule out impeaching Trump, despite the fact that the Mueller report contained no bombshells, such as additional indictments.

He again pointed to the Justice Department opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted: "That's their policy," Schiff said.

“And therefore, there could be overwhelming evidence on the obstruction issue. And I don't know that that's the case, but if this were overwhelming evidence of criminality on the president's part, then the Congress would need to consider that remedy (impeachment) if indictment is foreclosed.

“So, it's really too early to make those judgments. We need to see the report. And then I think we'll all have a factual basis to discuss what does this mean for the American people? What risks are we running with this president? What steps does Congress need to take to protect the country, but in the absence of those facts, those judgments are impossible to make."

Schiff also said Congress's responsibility is different from that of Robert Mueller:

"It's our responsibility to tell the American people, these are the facts. This is what your president has done, this is what his key campaign and appointees have done, these are the issues that we need to take action on, this is potential compromise.

“There is evidence, for example, quite in the public realm, that the president sought to make money from the Russians, sought the Kremlin's help to make money during the presidential campaign while denying business ties with the Russians.

"That is obviously deeply compromising,” Schiff said. “And if it’s this president's view that he still wants to build that tower when he is out of office, that may further compromise his policy towards Putin, towards Russia and other things. It's our duty to expose that and take corrective action."

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