December 8, 2019

Adam Schiff Responds to President’s Criticism

Congressman Adam Schiff; Photo by Lorin Granger

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who has become the face of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, expressed commitment to the task of investigating Trump despite heavy criticism from the president.

“This is an incredibly serious and somber task that we are undertaking in the House Intelligence Committee,” Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Journal in an email. “We are committed to conducting a serious and thorough investigation, and we are treating the whistleblower complaint as our roadmap.”

On Sept. 24, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) announced an impeachment inquiry into Trump in connection with a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The call became the subject of a whistleblower complaint. During the call, Trump allegedly asked Zelensky to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, a potential opponent in the 2020 presidential election, and Biden’s son, Hunter. 

Schiff said the transcript of the call, which the White House released to the public, was pivotal to the investigation.

“The call record released by the White House is Exhibit No. 1, and we’ll be hearing directly from the whistleblower very soon to discuss the issues raised in the complaint,” he said.

Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire provided the House Intelligence Committee with the whistleblower complaint on Sept. 25. This was later than the complaint should have been provided to the committee, according to Schiff’s office. The Intelligence Community’s Inspector General told the House Intelligence Committee that the office of the DNI withheld the complaint and should have transmitted it by Sept. 2, Schiff’s office said.

“We are committed to conducting a serious and thorough investigation, and we are treating the whistleblower complaint as our roadmap.” — Rep. Adam Schiff

Last week, Maguire testified before Schiff and the House Intelligence Committee about the complaint. During his opening statement, Schiff — whose district includes Glendale, Burbank and West Hollywood — said the transcript of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky revealed Trump violating his oath of office. The remarks were widely criticized by the president and his supporters, with Trump saying Schiff fabricated Trump’s remarks to make them sound worse than they were.

“Yesterday we were presented with the most graphic evidence yet that the president of the United States has betrayed his oath of office, betrayed his oath to defend our national security and betrayed his oath to defend our constitution,” Schiff, who is Jewish, said during his opening remarks.

Trump reportedly withheld $400 million in bipartisan-approved U.S. military aid to Ukraine days before the phone call, prompting critics to assert that Trump used the aid as a quid pro quo with Zelensky — meaning that the aid would be released if Zelensky helped investigate the Bidens, as Trump had asked. 

Several House committees are involved in the impeachment inquiry, including the Judiciary committee, led by Rep. Jerrold “Jerry” Nadler (D-N.Y.), and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, led by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). Pelosi has said that she wants Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee to lead the probe. Schiff has a close relationship with the Speaker and was actively involved in the Robert Mueller investigation into whether Trump colluded with the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

Trump criticized Schiff’s handling of the Russian investigation. Likewise, since the announcement of the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s call with Zelensky, Trump has continued to criticize Schiff, calling him treasonous. 

For his part, Schiff is undeterred.

“No sooner had Mueller testified about this collusion, than the president was at it again, this time trying to shake down the Ukraine government to help him in the next presidential election,” he told the Journal. “But I’m used to the president’s attacks and tweets — and they’re only going to get worse — as he grows more erratic.”