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Adam Schiff says Republican Party has "become essentially a cult"

Congressman Adam Schiff believes that the Republican Party has "become essentially a cult" in recent years, evident from its embrace of President Trump and controversial figures such as Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has espoused QAnon conspiracy theories.

"Sadly, it has already become essentially a cult, not just of QAnon, but a whole range of conspiracy theories orbiting around Donald Trump," Schiff said in an interview with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett for this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast. "Which of course is a disaster not only for the Republican Party, but is a disaster for the country. We really rely on two functional parties for our system to work, and right now we don't have that."

Listen to this episode on ART19

The House is voting on Thursday on a resolution to strip Greene from her committee positions for airing conspiracy theories about school shootings and other false statements, and her apparent endorsement of violence against Democrats. Greene said in a speech on the House floor on Thursday that her previous views "are words of the past and these things do not represent me, they do not represent my district, and they do not represent my values."

The Republican Party, Schiff said, has become "entwined" with conspiracy theories spread by Mr. Trump. The former president repeatedly refused to concede he had lost the presidential election and persisted in promoting untrue claims about voter fraud. The House impeached Mr. Trump in January on a charge of incitement of insurrection after a pro-Trump mob overran the Capitol in a deadly attack on January 6. 

Mr. Trump had addressed a crowd that day on the Ellipse, outside the White House, claiming he had won the presidency "by a landslide" and told his supporters, "If you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore." This language, House Democrats argued in their article of impeachment, "foreseeably resulted in—lawless action at the Capitol."

"Until they're able to extricate themselves from this lunatic fringe, until they're able to extricate themselves also from the person of Donald Trump, there's not much hope for that party, tragically," Schiff said about Republicans.

He also slammed the decision by Republican leadership not to remove Greene from her committee assignments. Having someone who had previously promoted conspiracy theories about school shootings on the Education and Labor Committee, Schiff said, "brings the whole House into ill-repute" and "makes a mockery of the Congress."

"It's a problem for the whole country that a political party is essentially hospitable to these dangerous and crazy conspiracy theories," Schiff said.

Schiff, who served as the lead impeachment manager in the first impeachment trial against Mr. Trump, also defended the constitutionality of holding a trial though he's no longer in office. He said that it was important to hold Mr. Trump accountable for his "words, actions and lies" in the wake of the election, arguing that it culminated in the deadly riot on January 6.

"If this isn't impeachable conduct, it's hard to imagine what would be," Schiff said.

For more of Major's conversation with Schiff, download "The Takeout" podcast on Art19, iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).  

Producers: Arden Farhi, Jamie Benson, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin, Julia Boccagno and Grace Segers
Show email: TakeoutPodcast@cbsnews.com
Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast
Instagram: @TakeoutPodcast
Facebook: Facebook.com/TakeoutPodcast

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