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Transcript: Rep. Adam Schiff on "Face the Nation," December 8, 2019

Schiff says he'll wait to vote on impeaching Trump until Judiciary makes final ruling
Adam Schiff says he'll wait to vote on impeaching Trump until Judiciary makes final ruling 07:50

The following is a transcript of an interview with Rep. Adam Schiff that aired Sunday, December 8, 2019, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: Morning and welcome to Face the Nation. Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee will hold another hearing as they write articles of impeachment against President Trump. Democrats are hoping to move quickly with full House debate on the articles and a vote by the Christmas holiday. We begin this morning with the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. He joins us from Burbank. Good morning to you, Chairman. 


MARGARET BRENNAN: Before we get to impeachment, I want to ask you about this developing story out of Pensacola, Florida, where a member of the Saudi military gunned down three Americans, wounded eight. Is there an indication of motive? Was this terrorism?

REP. SCHIFF: Well, we've gotten an initial briefing on it, and it really is too early to say. We grieve, obviously, for the families of those who were lost. And we're going to press Saudi Arabia to do a full investigation on their end, even as we do one on ours. And I wish the president of the United States, rather than trying to speak for the Saudi government, were pressing the Saudi government for answers. But we're going make sure that we not only get to the full truth here, but also that we review whatever protocols we have in place for the selection of people that participate in these military training programs both here and abroad, so that this kind of insider attack never occurs again.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we'll be talking about that more with the national security adviser ahead on the program. But I want to switch to impeachment with you. There are already drafts of impeachment articles. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, has indicated that you could see abuse of power, obstruction among them. What are you looking for? What should we expect these articles to be defined as?

REP. SCHIFF: Well, we have weighed in all the chairs with Chairman Nadler and his staff as to what we think would be appropriate in this set of articles. I can't go into those particular discussions, but I can tell you as a former prosecutor, it's always been, you know, my strategy in a charging decision, and an impeachment in the House is essentially a charging decision, to charge those that there is the strongest and most overwhelming evidence and not try to charge everything, even though you could charge other things. So, that's my guiding philosophy. There is overwhelming evidence that the president sought to coerce Ukraine into interfering in our election, essentially sought to cheat in our next election by getting a foreign government to weigh in. That is a very serious business, and it imperils our national security. It's a gross abuse of his office. And the president also deeply sought to obstruct the investigation into that wrongdoing. And I think that is the gravamen of the offense here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you're going- well, your committee will be presenting evidence tomorrow before the House Judiciary Committee. Will you include evidence from the Mueller report?

REP. SCHIFF: Well, our committee will present what we investigated, in the intelligence-- [inaudible] --set of allegations-- [inaudible] --but also the obstruction of Congress. It won't be our committee, the Intelligence Committee, presentation that would go to other issues like the Mueller report. That'll be decision that Chairman Nadler will have to make.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But do you think that this should be broadened out beyond the issue of Ukraine?

REP. SCHIFF: Well, again, I'm not going to get to my internal discussions with my colleagues, but I will say that I think we should focus on those issues that provide the greatest threat to the country. And the president is engaged in a course of conduct that threatens the integrity of the next election, threatens our national security by withholding military assistance to an ally at war to our detriment and conditioning other things like a desperately sought after White House-- [inaudible] --for election. And that is an ongoing threat to the country, and one that simply can't wait.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well I- I know Republicans make the point that the aid was ultimately released. But I want to ask you, in your personal opinion, you have seen all of this evidence, are you actually not going to vote to impeach the president? Is there any chance that you wouldn't vote to impeach the president?

REP. SCHIFF: Well, first of all, MARGARET, they released the aid because they got caught, because a whistleblower blew the whistle, because Congress announced an investigation, and only thereafter, and almost immediately thereafter, were they forced to release the aide. So that's not much of a defense: getting caught. But in terms of my own recommendations, look, I'm going to see what articles come out of the Judiciary Committee deliberations. I'll make my views known at that time. But I will say this- this is precisely the kind of conduct the founders were most concerned about when they provided the remedy of impeachment. That is, that a president of the United States would abuse his power to seek foreign intervention in our affairs, and do so in a way that threatens the ordinary mechanism of removing a president. And that is an election. And you have all of those ingredients here. And what's more, you have a president who is continuing in the malicious conduct out on the White House lawn, still saying he wants Ukraine to help him in the next election with these sham investigations, inviting other countries like China to do the same thing. Rudy Giuliani, even this week--


REP. SCHIFF: --is in Ukraine furthering this plot. And so, this is an ongoing, clear and present danger to the integrity of our elections and our own national security.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the president said yesterday that Rudy Giuliani is preparing a report, that he's going to give to the attorney general and to Congress. What is the plan for this? Is Rudy Giuliani going to come in and testify under oath?

REP. SCHIFF: Well, we have subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani for his records and he's refused to comply and refused to cooperate, like so many other witnesses that have refused. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, do you know what-- 

REP. SCHIFF: Like Pompeo.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --the presidents talking about here?

REP. SCHIFF: Look, I have little idea what the president's talking about, except that the president is only too happy to have his personal attorney continue to seek foreign interference in the next election. This is not something that started or ended with Ukraine. It began when the president invited Russia to intervene in the last election. It continued with the president trying to coerce Ukraine to do it now. And it is-- [inaudible] --we feel we have to move forward and we simply can't wait for an election in which the president is seeking already to prejudice by foreign intervention.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, in the 300 page report that your committee put out, it included some call logs, including numbers related to Congressman Nunes and a journalist and there has been a lot of blowback on you having published this. Upon reflection, should you have made that public?

REP. SCHIFF: Well, absolutely. And the blowback has only come from the- the far right. But look, every investigator seeks phone records to corroborate, sometimes to contradict, a witnesses' testimony. And here we had testimony that the president charged Ruly Giuliani with carrying out this plot, that he told Ambassador Volger- Volker and Perry and Sondland to talk to Rudy. And, in fact, Ambassador Volker testified about talking to Rudy. And so naturally, we wanted phone records to show they had those conversations and indeed, they did.


REP. SCHIFF: But it's very important to point out, MARGARET, we did not subpoena Devin Nunes' call records. We did not subpoena any journalist's call records. And that is simply false information being pushed by the president's allies. But the fact that Mr. Nunes or Giuliani or others show up in this scheme doesn't make them irrelevant, doesn't give them a pass.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Congressman, thank you very much. 

REP. SCHIFF: Thank you.

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