Schiff says Trump has made confrontation with Iran "far more likely"

Schiff: Trump has made Iran confrontation "far more likely"

The Trump administration's posture towards Iran has made confrontation with that Middle Eastern country "far more likely," House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff told "Face the Nation" Sunday. 

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been escalating, with the Trump administration insisting Iran poses a growing threat. Schiff acknowledged that intelligence reveals an increasing threat from Iran, but that is a "predictable" outcome of the White House stoking tensions. The administration's policy decisions "have led us to a state where confrontation is far more likely" with Iran, Schiff said.

Schiff said the Trump administration's aggressive approach to Iran is also weakening relationships with allies, who insist it's not nearly as great of a threat. The U.S. military has refuted a senior British commander's assessment that there has been "no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria." 

The U.S. has pulled most personnel from Iraq after U.S. officials said Iranian military was likely behind attacks on oil tankers in the Persian gulf. And the U.S. has ratcheted up sanctions against the country.

Asked if the U.S. is going to war with Iran last week, Mr. Trump responded, "I hope not." Mr. Trump shot down a New York Times story last week that the U.S. is making plans to send up to 120,000 troops there if necessary, but also said he would send a "hell of a lot more" if needed. 

"I think it's fake news, OK?" the president told reporters on the South Lawn Tuesday. "Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we're not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that." 

On another topic, Schiff lauded Republican Rep. Justin Amash, the first Republican to suggest Mr. Trump should be impeached. Amash unleashed a lengthy Twitter thread on Saturday, suggesting the president's actions rise to the level of obstruction of justice and are impeachable offenses. Mr. Trump responded to Amash on Twitter Sunday morning, calling him a "loser."

Schiff said Amash has demonstrated far more courage than any Republican in the House or Senate. But if impeachment is pursued, Schiff said Congress will need to prove to the American people that the decision to go down that route was one "made reluctantly." 

"Well, I think that what the speaker has referred to, and I have as well, is, can an impeachment even be potentially successful in the Senate?" Schiff said. "We see no signs of that yet. And you know, I respect what Justin Amash is doing and has said. He showed more courage than any other Republican in the House or Senate. But what may be pushing us in the direction of impeachment in any event has less to do with Justin Amash and more to do with the fact that the administration is engaging in a maximum obstructionism campaign against Congress."

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    Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.