House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said President Donald Trump’s words and actions encourage “grave” threats to democracy and the 2020 elections, and he said his panel is exploring whether the president’s financial interests compromised his foreign policy.
The California Democrat told reporters Wednesday that Trump’s repeated assertion that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election “was a hoax” sends a signal to President Vladimir Putin and other hostile nations that “they’re free to intervene in the next election as long as they intervene on the president’s side, and he will not have the guts to call them out on it. He may even be grateful.”
Schiff’s comments offered his rationale for a continuing his committee’s counterintelligence investigation after Special Counsel Robert Mueller reported that he couldn’t conclude if Trump’s 2016 campaign conspired with Russia and also couldn’t exonerate the president from attempting to obstruct the probe.
Trump tweeted Wednesday that Democrats who control the House are seeking a “Do Over” of the 2016 election through “rigged” hearings because they’re unhappy with Mueller’s report.
DEMOCRAT CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS ARE #RIGGED!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 19, 2019
Schiff said he’s also determined to get a more complete picture of Trump’s efforts during the 2016 presidential campaign to pursue plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow, describing that effort as part of a broader follow-up to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference.
Trump needed Putin’s help “to make perhaps the most lucrative deal of his life” at the same time he was praising Putin publicly and denying he had any business in Russia, Schiff said in his comments at the National Press Club.
“That may not be a crime,” Schiff said, but it’s “a counterintelligence problem of the first order of magnitude.”
Mueller will have to testify despite his reluctance to do so, Schiff said, calling his public statement and report insufficient to answer all of lawmakers’ questions about the investigation.
He can “testify voluntarily or testify under subpoena,” Schiff said.
This piece originally appeared on Bloomberg.