'This Week' Transcript: 3-24-19: Rep. Adam Schiff and Jim Jordan - ABC News
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's bring in now the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. Chairman Schiff, thank you for joining us this morning.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, the biggest news from Robert Mueller so far is that there are no new indictments for that underlying -- any cooperating with and conspiracy with the Russians to interfere in our elections. And we’re already seeing Rudy Giuliani come out with a tweet about that yesterday, citing you. He said your previous statement saying there is significant evidence of collusion involving the Trump campaign. I trust he, Adam Schiff, is relieved there is no collusion and I hope he will apologize for his mistake. We all make them. The real virtue is to admit it. It would help us heal. You going to apologize?
[OCS: There is little doubt in my mind that Adam Schiff is a duplicitous lying scumbag who knows that he, in all likelihood, will never be held accountable for his outright lies, distortions, and misdirection. It should also be noted that the only time most politicians apologize is when they have been caught in undeniable wrongdoing and the media is continuing to make the wrongdoing the centerpiece of their reporting for a sustained period of time.]
SCHIFF: I think Mr. Giuliani would be wise to wait until the report is made public before making any pronouncements about vindication. And likewise, people should wait to determine just how incriminating it is. We know the special counsel was not permitted to indict a sitting president and we ought to see what evidence he produced, both on the issue of conspiracy as well as on the issue obstruction of justice. So Mr. Giuliani would be wise to do something he has rarely done and that is wait until we see the facts.
[OCS: Notice the rhetorical trick when Schiff points out that “the special counsel was not permitted to indict a sitting president,” setting the stage for the fact that the Department of Justice rules do not allow the release of information on people who are not indicted – and thus the President could still be guilty even if his name does not appear in the report.]
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have said, though, in the past there was significant evidence of collusion. How do you square that with Robert Mueller's decision not to indict anyone?
SCHIFF: And there is significant evidence of collusion and we’ve set that out time and time again from the secret meetings in Trump Tower to the conversations between Flynn, and the Russian ambassador to the providing of polling data to someone linked to Russian intelligence and Stone’s conversation with WikiLeaks and the GRU through Guccifer 2.0 --
[OCS: One, it all depends on the issue of what constitutes collusion. Simply speaking with Russians is not collusion and there is no crime of “collusion.” If one wanted to be truthful, one might say that Hillary and Bill Clinton, including their cadre of associates, should be investigated for their alleged criminal act of “conspiracy” involving the Uranium One deal with the Russians. Meeting with Russians during the course of one’s duties (Flynn) or attempting to access “opposition research” (Tower Meeting) do not constitute collusion or criminal activities.
In fact, one might make the case that Flynn’s prosecution was both immoral and illegal and carried out for political purposes. That he was specifically entrapped by hostile government forces executing a political agenda.
The Tower Meeting also involved a known Russian operative (with a State Department pass to be in-country) who maintained a working relationship with Glenn Simpson, the Fusion GPS CEO who appears to be at the center of the phony Steele Dossier ploy.
And, since the DNC did not allow the FBI to forensically examine their computer and all of the assertions of hacking and WikiLeak’s involvement is still unsubstantiated, one might consider another Democrat Trojan Horse?]
STEPHANOPOULOS: None of it prosecuted.
SCHIFF: No, that's true. And as I pointed out on your show many times, 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.
[OCS: Let us not forget that the Report is the prosecutor’s opinion and has never been tested in a court of law or subject to adversarial challenge that could reveal truths taken out of context or manufactured out of who cloth. If a prosecution is unlikely to succeed in a court of law, then there are strategic flaws somewhere in the evidence, testimony, or the presentation cannot prove the elements of a crime. We also do not know how professional Mueller’s efforts may have been considering he was surrounded, 100%, by investigators and prosecutors hostile to President Trump and favorable to the criminal activities of the Clinton gang.]
STEPHANOPOULOS: What you're seeing some of the president's allies already say is this is vindication for the president.
SCHIFF: Well they’ve been saying with each indictment that it's a vindication that now, about 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.
[OCS: If one looks closely, all of the indictments thus far are not for activities that involve Donald Trump, either as a candidate or the President of the United States. Most of the indictments involve the criminal activities of individuals prior to the campaign, or in the case of Flynn, a set-up for a procedural crime of lying to an investigator. From the evidence, the FBI went out of their way to make sure Flynn was not represented by an attorney, that the interrogation was a simple chat, and essentially Flynn was being accused of misremembering or forgetting some fact.
The Democrats do not want the underlying evidence made public so they continue to point to redactions and withheld information and say, “see, it’s there, but it’s hidden by design.” And, the last thing the Democrats would want is for evidence relating to unindicted individuals from being made public because thus would open up a “can of worms” where the actions of the FBI and DOJ would be revealed in the Clinton matter.
Congress has no legal or statutory authority in a criminal matter. It is their prerogative to do their own investigation for impeachment, lying to Congress (although they let Trump’s Attorney Michael Cohen’s lies go unchallenged on numerous occasions), or for legislative guidance.]
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 that the president may be compromised in any way, where 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.
[OCS: Notice the not so subtle shift from Russian collusion for political purposes to potentially criminal financial activities – activities which might cause the examination of Trump’s tax returns and business dealings which would be great media fodder leading up to the 2020 election.
It is also up to the Intelligence Committee to investigate the Russian conspiracy involving Obama Administration officials that saw 20% of America’s uranium transferred to a Russian State organization. But, that seems to have slipped Schiff’s mind even though it is an ongoing issue.]
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say you’re going to take it as far as necessary. That means subpoena first, then sue?
SCHIFF: It means make the request, if the question request denied, subpoena. If the subpoenas are denied, we will haul people before the Congress. And yes, we will prosecute in court as necessary to get this information. And you know, I’ll say this, I think that Neal Katyal’s prognostication is quite correct, we will win that litigation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why are you so sure?
SCHIFF: -- the Justice Department will be -- well, because how do you make the case as the Justice Department that after providing 880,000 pages of discovery to a Republican Congress and answered to subpoenas that somehow you're precluded from providing that information to Congress in the Trump investigation. When likewise in the Clinton investigation, there were no indictments for Rod Rosenstein or others to say, it's our policy not the share information with those not indicted, they should explain that to Bruce Ohr or Andy McCabe or Peter Strzok or Lisa Page or countless others -- Hillary Clinton, for whom they provided hundreds of thousands of pages of information to Congress, much of it made public.
So, I would hate to defend that double standard in court, and if they try they'll not only lose, but they will damage any reputation for impartiality, so I think they need to be transparent, and I hope they recognize that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You also asked Robert Mueller to examine transcripts of Donald Trump Jr., Eric Prince, Jared Kushner, for possible false statements, no charges there, either. Surprised?
SCHIFF: I don't know. That's a difficult charge to prove. When we released the transcript, people can make their own judgment about how truthful or forthcoming they were.
But as I said at the time, I wanted the special couple to be able to review the transcripts, not just for the purpose of determining whether people lied to us, as indeed, people did, but also what evidence they show on the central issues that he was investigating.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There is no public evidence that Robert Mueller even interviewed Don Jr. We now he didn't interview the president. Mistake?
SCHIFF: Yes. I think -- and I have said this all along, it was a mistake to rely on written responses by the president, that is generally more what the lawyer has to say than what the individual has to say. I can certainly understand why the lawyers like Giuliani were fighting this, because the president is someone who seems pathologically incapable of telling the truth for long periods of time.
But nonetheless, if you really do want the truth, you need to put people under oath. And that should 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.
And one other point in terms of the timing of this report, George, which I think is significant, and that is this report has come out so far in advance of the election that the contents can be made public, that the public can have that access to information without violating any policy about disclosure prior to an election. And that’s very important.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned that the criminal investigation was only one part of Robert Mueller's job. He also took over the counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference, as well.
I was a little puzzled that the Speaker is ruling out any classified briefing about that counterintelligence investigation. Isn't that the normal course of business for your committee and the so-called Gang of Eight?
SCHIFF: There may be a time down the road with respect to specific classified information that goes to a source or method where they would want to brief us on that. But I think what the Speaker is saying, and I completely agree is, do not think you can bury this report. Do not think you can bury the evidence in secret by briefing eight people in Congress and say we have discharged our responsibility. That's not going to cut it.
So it is essential that the report be made completely public, and the reservations that you have mentioned, the legal issues. One thing is abundantly clear about the special counsel regulations, and that is the attorney general has the discretion to make it completely public. And if he's going to live up to his words that he will do so consistent with law and policy, that means making it all public.
So, I think the Speaker is quite right. There are key counterintelligence concerns that we have as the committee, the intelligence committee, and remember this began as a counterintelligence investigation, not a criminal one, and in our committee it remains a counterintelligence investigation. We need to be able to see any evidence that this president or people around him maybe compromised by a foreign power. And we, of course, seen all kinds of disturbing indications that this president has a relationship with Putin that is very difficult to justify or explain.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned -- you told the San Francisco chronicle on Friday if there is no bombshell, there is no impeachment. Does no indictments qualify as no bombshell?
SCHIFF: Not necessarily, because again, George, as you pointed out, they can't indict the president. That's their policy. 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 if indictment is foreclosed.
[OCS: Firing James Comey was not obstruction, especially since acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote the memo justifying Comey’s release. I believe that one might make the case that Comey committed indictable violations of policy, procedure, and criminal statutes. At no time did Trump appear to obstruct the investigation – using one’s constitutional authority, perks, and privileges is not obstruction. Notice that Schiff says “there could be overwhelming evidence” just as their could be overwhelming evidence that Schiff participated in an attempt to overthrow the President of the United States in a silent coup d'état]
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?
[OCS: Schiff does not know what is in the report, yet he ran before the cameras to impugn the President. I think that this speaks volumes about the credibility, reliability, and trustworthiness of one Adam Schiff.]
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, some of your Republican colleagues are saying that by continuing this investigation after Mueller is done, you're moving the goalposts.
SCHIFF: The investigation is a criminal investigation. Congress's responsibility is very different, and that is, 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. 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.
[OCS: Notice the goal posts have been “schiffted.” It was nice of Schiff to note the difference between a criminal investigation and that it differs from a Congressional investigation. You will also notice that Schiff never defines or details what the predicate crime was in turning a counterintelligence investigation into a criminal one. Nor does he comment on the fact that Michael Cohen was coerced into pleading guilty to a finance disclosure “non-crime” that was never challenged in a court of law.]
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chairman Schiff, thanks for your time this morning.
SCHIFF: Thanks, George.