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Transcript: Rep. Adam Schiff on "Face the Nation," July 3, 2022

Schiff: Jan. 6 panel has new leads after Hutchinson testimony
Schiff says Jan. 6 committee has "additional leads" after Cassidy Hutchinson testimony 08:00

The following is a transcript of an interview with Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California that aired Sunday, July 3, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're joined now by California Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. He is a member of the January 6 Select Committee and chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Good morning, and good to have you here in person.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Thank you. Good to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to pick up on what we just heard from the Secretary when we were talking about this far-right group, the Proud Boys. This was one of the militias involved in January 6. And in this incredible testimony this past week from Cassidy Hutchinson, the former Trump White House aide, Chief of - Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, she testified she heard conversations inside the White House about this far-right group, and another one called the Oath Keepers. Is there corroborating evidence to show that there was communication between those militias in the White House?

REP. SCHIFF: I don't want to get too far ahead of what we intend to present in our next hearings, but our very next hearing will be focused on the efforts to assemble that mob on the mall, who was participating who was financing it, how it was organized, including the participation of these white-nationalist groups like the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters and others. And so we'll be presenting information we have. We haven't answered all the questions that we have, we continue our investigation into precisely the issue you're describing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Hutchinson was specific in saying Rudy Giuliani, the President's personal attorney was someone she heard talking about them.

REP. SCHIFF: Well- and this is one of the reasons we had interest in his testimony and have interest in the testimony of others. We obviously want to probe any connection between these dangerous groups and the White House. I think we've gotten some answers, but there's still a great deal we don't know that we're endeavoring to find out.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's an incredible allegation, of course. So we'll track that. I want to also ask you, the vice-chair of the committee, Liz Cheney, said not prosecuting former President Trump over the attack on the Capitol would be a much graver constitutional threat to the country than the political difficulties involved with bringing charges. She said this in an ABC interview. She also said there are possible criminal referrals, not just one, but multiple. Do you agree?

REP. SCHIFF: I do. I do. You know, for four years, the Justice Department took the position that you can't indict a sitting president. If the Department were now to take the position that you can't investigate or indict a former president. Then, a president becomes above the law. That's a very dangerous idea that the founders would have never subscribed to. Even more dangerous, I think in the case of Donald Trump. This- Donald Trump is someone who has shown when he's not held accountable, he goes on to commit worse and worse abuses of power. So I agree with Judge Carter in California, I think there was evidence that the former President engaged in multiple violations of the law, and that should be investigated.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But there will be a political calculus to this as well. This is an incredibly divided country right now. Millions of people voted for the former president and still believe, wrongly, that he won the election- prosecuting him, isn't there a very high risk to that?

REP. SCHIFF: You know, it's certainly not a step to be taken lightly at all. At the same time, immunizing a former president who has engaged in wrongdoing, I would agree with our vice chair- I think is more dangerous than anything else, and the decision not to move forward to the investigation or not to move forward to the prosecution, because of someone's political status or political influence or because they have a following. To me, that is a far more dangerous thing to our Constitution than following the evidence wherever it leads, including when it leads to a former president.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your colleague, Adam Kinzinger, was on another program this morning and said new witnesses have come forward since Cassidy Hutchinson testified. How many? How significant? Is there more new information that requires more hearings?

REP. SCHIFF: You know, I think there's certainly more information that is coming forward, in terms of whether that will materialize into particular witnesses on this topic or that topic, we're going to wait and see, but we are following additional leads. I think those leads will lead to a new testimony. It's part of the reason we wanted her to come before the public is we were hoping it would generate others stepping forward, seeing her courage would inspire them to show the same kind of courage. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Has she inspired the former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, to take up the request- to speak to him again?

REP. SCHIFF: I hope so. We're in discussions with Mr. Cipollone's counsel. I'm hopeful that we can work out bringing him in for testimony. He clearly has information about concerns about criminal violations, concerns about the President going to the Capitol that day, concerns about the chief of staff having blood on his hands if they didn't do more to stop that violent attack on the Capitol. Hard to imagine someone more at the center of things, and I hope that he'll demonstrate the same courage we saw Cassidy Hutchinson display. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Who is attempting to intimidate the witnesses as- as Congresswoman Cheney said, and how significant are the security threats against Hutchinson?

REP. SCHIFF: Uh, you know, I have to imagine the security threats are very pronounced. Certainly, our members are feeling them and hearing them. I have to expect the same is true of her, since the former president and his enablers are going after her, and we want to make sure that she is safe. We have several concerns. We have the concern over safety for witnesses, we have concern over people who are trying to influence or intimidate witnesses--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --Who's doing that?

REP. SCHIFF: You know, I can't comment on specific but-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: --But you know?

REP. SCHIFF: We- we wanted to let the country know, and anyone in the former president's world know, that if they seek to intimidate witnesses, they will be referred for prosecution. And we hope that Justice Department will move against them. But we also have a concern about the fact that some of these witnesses are sharing lawyers, that, essentially and this gets to some the testimony revealed during the Cassidy Hutchinson hearing- that they're reviewing transcripts, that they're essentially coordinating, potentially, their stories, or that witnesses feel they've got big brother watching them when they sit in for their depositions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So on that, I want to ask you- one of the things that Cassie Hutchinson described having been told by another individual is about this tussle in the beast, the president's vehicle, where he allegedly lunged for the wheel demanding to be taken to the Capitol. The committee's already interviewed Tony Ornato, the White House operations director, and Secret Service agent Robert Engel. Was this the first time you heard about that incident? Did they back that up or contradict that testimony?

REP. SCHIFF: I can't go into the specifics of the prior testimony. But I can say I think we'd be interested in having them come back, and others that can shed light on this. But- but the most important thing is there doesn't appear to be any dispute over the fact the President was furious that he could not accompany this armed mob to the Capitol. That seems to be undisputed, and the fact that the President knew that the mob was armed, wanted the magnetometers down so they could take their arms to the Capitol. That doesn't seem to be disputed by anyone except Donald Trump. And he has, as we've seen in the past, no credibility at all. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Quickly, before I let you go, with your intel hat on here, the bullet that was used to kill American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh has been handed over to the United States. It's undergoing ballistics testing right now. If Israeli soldiers did indeed kill her, what consequences should there be?

REP. SCHIFF: Well, I think there needs to be an independent investigation so that we understand exactly what happened and who was responsible and why. Once we know that, then I think we can talk about what the consequences should be. But I do think there needs to be an objective investigation. And I'm glad that the United States can help play a part in that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman Schiff, thanks for your time. 

REP. SCHIFF: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Face the Nation will be back in a minute. Stay with us.

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