Adam Schiff was angry. It was late March, and Attorney General William Barr had just released his summary of the special counsel’s Russiagate report, deflating many Democrats’ hopes for impeachment. Republicans, led by President Donald Trump, had spent the past few days trumpeting the finding of “no collusion” and then ridiculing Schiff, head of the House Intelligence Committee and one of the president’s fiercest critics, for continuing to press the case against Trump.
Now, in Schiff’s own committee room, one by one, GOP members savaged him, demanding his resignation. Representative Michael Turner of Ohio even invoked the red-hunting legacy of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who had brought national disgrace “chasing after Russian Communists” in the 1950s. “Now, we have Schiff chasing Russian collusion,” Turner said.
Schiff leaned forward and scanned the room. A former federal prosecutor, he responded with an indictment of his own. “My colleagues may think it’s OK that the Russians offered dirt on a Democratic candidate for president as part of what was described as the Russian government’s effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that’s OK,” he said. “My colleagues might think it’s OK that when that was offered to the son of the president, who had a pivotal role in the campaign, that the president’s son did not call the FBI, he did not adamantly refuse that foreign help.”
For the next five minutes, Schiff laid out his bill of particulars, including national security adviser Michael Flynn lying to the investigators and Trump firing FBI Director James Comey. “You might say that’s all OK. You might say that’s just what you need to do to win. But I don’t think it’s OK,” he snapped. “I think it’s immoral, I think it’s unethical, I think it’s unpatriotic, and, yes, I think it’s corrupt. I do not think that conduct, criminal or not, is OK. And the day we do think that’s OK is the day we will look back and say, ‘That is the day America lost its way.'”
If anyone had any doubts that Democrats would continue investigating Trump as a postâRobert Mueller Washington, D.C., turns to the next presidential campaign, Schiff had extinguished them. The moment went viral, drawing the attention—and condemnation—of the president himself. “Little pencil-neck Adam Schiff,” the president said at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, just a few hours after the hearing. The crowd booed their new villain. “He has the smallest, thinnest neck I have ever seen. He is not a long-ball hitter.” “Sick,” Trump said of Schiff and his Democratic colleagues. “These are sick people.”
Yet Trump’s denunciations only seemed to strengthen Schiff’s resolve. Yes, the Mueller probe is over, Schiff concedes, without delivering a presidential head or even one more indictment to the dozens that have already been announced. But Democrats have much more to investigate, he says, starting with the special counsel’s report itself. Barr has indicated the document is almost 400 pages long, excluding tables and appendices—the War and Peace of investigative reports. Schiff and a handful of other powerful committee chairmen have signed a letter beginning the process of authorizing subpoenas for the full Mueller report, including its underlying evidence and materials.
Beyond that, federal prosecutors in New York have dubbed Trump “Individual 1” in a criminal case involving hush money that sent his personal lawyer Michael Cohen to jail. They are also reportedly looking into Trump’s reliance on wealthy Russians starting in the late 1990s to keep afloat his real estate and branding enterprises, which have declared bankruptcy four times.
Schiff has claimed that evidence of wrongdoing by Trump “is in plain sight.” The top Democrat spoke with Newsweek from his Washington, D.C., office about why he thinks Mueller couldn’t nail Trump, why he won’t give up investigating the president and how he thinks the rule of law will ultimately triumph.
You can read the rest of the Interview at Newsweek.