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Transcript: Rep. Adam Schiff on "Face the Nation," January 17, 2021

Schiff: Trump shouldn't receive intel briefings out of office
Schiff says Trump "can't be trusted" to receive intel briefings when out of office 06:08

The following is a transcript of an interview with California Congressman Adam Schiff that aired Sunday, January 17, 2021, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. Good morning to you, Mr. Chairman.


MARGARET BRENNAN: There is a very visible security presence on the streets here in the nation's capital right now. What is your understanding of the threat level in the days ahead?

REP. SCHIFF: Well, it's very high. And you're absolutely right. It reminds me of visiting Baghdad, going to the Green Zone. And seeing so much military presence and barricades, I never thought I would see that in our own capital or that it would be necessary. But there is a profound threat from domestic violent extremists of the nature we saw on January 6th. There are people coming to the Washington, D.C. area. They are bringing weapons. And we see threats to capitals all over the country, all 50 state Capitols. Now, I think the inauguration will proceed and it will proceed safely, but there will be gatherings of individuals and those gatherings could turn violent. So there's a very high level of risk.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Capitol Hill Police confirmed this week that they are investigating whether members of Congress gave unauthorized or un- unsanctioned tours that could have provided reconnaissance support to those who then attacked the Capitol days later. There are supporters of QAnon among elected and sitting lawmakers. Do you have any sense of whether there was support- that fellow members aided the attacks?

REP. SCHIFF: I don't know the answer to that, MARGARET. Obviously, it's deeply important that we find out and that if there are members of Congress that are complicit beyond the- the complicity of challenging the election and propagating the president's lies, but more specifically involved in helping individuals do reconnaissance, they need to be held accountable in- in the strongest way that we can. Along with my fellow chairs, we are beginning an investigation into what went wrong, into the intelligence failures. And I think there's a massive intelligence and security failure here that needs to be fully investigated. We hope to get answers to these questions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What about your fellow lawmakers who sit on the committees that oversee the Capitol Hill Police, for example? Do they bear some responsibility as well?

REP. SCHIFF: Well, they'll be doing their own investigation as well. The particular lane I'm focused on is the intelligence. What did we know before the attack of the- the likelihood of violence against the Capitol that day? Was that intelligence disseminated? If it was, why wasn't it made use of? But we're also going to be examining the- the Capitol Police and its structure and its leadership and what changes need to be made there. And I've every confidence that Zoe Lofgren in the House administration committee will perform those responsibilities, along with Bennie Thompson and Homeland Security and other committees.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Have you seen any evidence of foreign support, financial or otherwise, for any of these domestic organizations involved in the siege?

REP. SCHIFF: Well, we are going to try to follow the money. That's a critical part of any investigation. I know Carolyn Maloney has taken a particular interest in that issue, and that is who was funding this? Who was supporting this? How much were they involved in what ultimately took place on January 6th? Following the money is a vital part of our investigative plan, that is the Congress broadly, and any investigation into a tragedy this substantial.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In your role on the committee, you have some oversight of the intelligence community. Sue Gordon, who I know you know, one of the nation's top intelligence professionals for decades, wrote an op-ed yesterday in which she said President Trump is a security threat himself. And when he leaves office, he should be denied access to intelligence briefings. Would you urge the Biden administration to do that?

REP. SCHIFF: Absolutely. There's no circumstance in which this president should get another intelligence briefing, not now, not in the future. I don't think he can be trusted with it now and in the future, he certainly can't be trusted. Indeed, there were, I think, any number of intelligence partners of ours around the world who probably started withholding information from us because they didn't trust the president would- would safeguard that information and protect their sources and methods. And that makes us less safe. We've seen this president politicize intelligence, and that's another risk to the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: With just a few days to go, the Trump administration is reportedly installing a GOP operative at the National Security Agency, which oversees, as you know, some cyber and signals intelligence. Do you have any indication what the intent is there?

REP. SCHIFF: I think it's very clear this is part of the administration's effort to embed people in the civil servants who are political and partisan actors who don't belong there. In this case, Michael Ellis was mentioned in one of the articles of impeachment. He was involved in the midnight run. He was involved in putting that Ukraine call record in a secure computer system where it didn't belong to try to conceal--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking about the first impeachment?

REP. SCHIFF: --that evidence. Yes. So, there's no way that someone like Michael Ellis should be confirmed or appointed or hired for a career civil service position, particularly if there were--


REP. SCHIFF: --other applicants, which there were, that were more highly rated.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Very quickly, when will the speaker of the House send the articles of impeachment to the Senate for this impeachment?

REP. SCHIFF: Well, that'll be the speaker's decision. You know, I'll leave the strategy to her and to Jamie Raskin, and an incredibly talented team. This is, you know, obviously the most serious crime against our country and Constitution of any president in history.


REP. SCHIFF: And the fact that it took place in the last month doesn't make it any less serious. There needs to be full accountability. And I hope and pray that the Senate will uphold their duty and their oath when that case is tried.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you for your time this morning.

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