California’s 28th District congressional seat is up for grabs this year. House Intelligence Committee chairman and incumbent Rep. Adam Schiff is being challenged by attorney Eric Early for the post.
During a recent debate hosted by the League of Women Voters Early recently said an investigation into interference with the 2016 election is to blame for where the country is at with the coronavirus pandemic.
“Well, I guess the argument, it’s an argument that Donald Trump makes, that his corruption, his effort to coerce Ukraine into helping him cheat, which resulted in his impeachment, is to blame for the pandemic,” responded Schiff. “Now, I don’t really understand the logic of that, that really has no logic, but I guess that’s the best that Donald Trump can do and my opponent merely regurgitates what he hears from the president.”
Rep. Schiff disagreed with Early’s comments saying America has a poor record with handling the pandemic because “of the incompetent leadership of the president, because this is a president that didn’t take the virus seriously, even when he knew it was deadly, as he admitted to Bob Woodward.”
“He misled the country. He continues to this day to take actions that are inconsistent with fighting the virus, sending mixed messages, even some things as basic as wearing a mask and the result of this mixture of incompetence and malignant narcissism on the president’s part is that 210,000 Americans have died and more will die unless we change our approach to this pandemic, which means get serious about wearing a mask and social distancing, get serious about ramping up testing so that everyone can get a test at no charge and get results back within 24-hours, get serious about tracing and protective gear,” he said. “This has to be priority number one getting the pandemic under control, stop blaming everyone else for the president’s failures, the president needs to take responsibility and we need to get this pandemic under control and get our economy back on its feet.”
While some may not agree with Rep. Schiff, the congressman said most of his constituents agree with his point-of-view on how to handle the pandemic.
“They do agree with following the science, they do want to make sure that we ramp up testing, they understand the economy is inextricably intertwined with the pandemic,” he explained. “My constituents don’t like the president’s backward policies, they don’t like his bigotry, they don’t like one of the candidates for Congress to be mouthing that bigotry and so it’s clear what my constituents want. It’s clear my constituents don’t buy what Donald Trump is selling even though there are a discrete minority of Americans who do.”
Rep. Schiff said he believes systemic racism needs to be addressed and said he supports the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to remove qualified immunity to make sure “that we have best practices, we have uniform standards for the use of force, but I also recognize that law enforcement has an important function.”
Campaign signs for Early read, “Early Defends, Schiff Defunds.” The congressman called this argument “Trumpian” and a “false talking point.”
“He doesn’t want to talk about his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, something that Eric Early also supports. He doesn’t want to talk about climate change, Mr. Early supports the president’s withdrawal from the climate accord. Instead he wants to make a false argument about defunding or defending the police,” he said. “I was a prosecutor for almost six years and prosecuted violent crime and white-collar crime. I also prosecuted bad cops. So. I have experience in this that Mr. Early doesn’t and his argument that anyone who thinks that there should be reform is somehow advocating for a complete defunding of the police is a false nonstarter.”
“We have a real job on our hands to make sure that we address systemic racism, at the same time we need to make sure that we protect our community, that we end any kind of violence, and I condemn the violence that we’ve seen on both sides, but particularly egregious right now is the FBI has reported is this escalation of right-wing violence which is now the premier domestic terror threat of the country,” continued Rep. Schiff.
Earlier this month, rallies broke out across Los Angeles in support of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed area at the center of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Rep. Schiff’s district is made up of a large population of Armenian Americans. He said he has done a lot of work to push Congress to recognize the Armenian Genocide and if re-elected he will continue to fight for their rights.
“I studied the facts of the genocide — they are really clear and incontrovertible. The deliberate murder of a million-and-a-half people early in the last century by the Ottoman Empire. Turkey’s effort ever since to deny it’s culpability and the efforts it’s made through extensive lobbying to prevent the Congress from recognizing the Armenian Genocide,” he said. “I’m very proud that for the first time in decades, the bill that I introduced on the Genocide passed late last year, with an overwhelming bipartisan vote. But the conflict that we’re in right now was preventable. It was predictable.”
The recent conflict, Rep. Schiff said, is being aided and abetted by Turkey.
“Azerbaijan for years has launched unprovoked attacks on the Nagorno-Karabakh, on Armenia as a way of distracting from domestic problems within Azerbaijan. This is an autocrat’s playbook and President Aliyev of Azerbaijan to distract his population from their poor condition, has provoked war with his neighbor,” he said. “What I’ve been doing is trying to hold the aggressors accountable, joining Jackie Speier in a resolution condemning Azerbaijan’s violence and calling on Turkey to put a stop to their aiding and abetting of it.”
This piece was originally published at Spectrum 1.