Transcript: Rep. Adam Schiff on "Face the Nation," January 20, 2019
The following is a transcript of the interview with Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California that aired Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, on "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. He's a California Democrat and an ally to Speaker Pelosi. Chairman Schiff, welcome to "Face the Nation."
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you like to respond to anything the vice president just said about Democratic leadership in response to their proposal?
REP. SCHIFF: I think the vice president and the president know that what the president announced yesterday was not going to go anywhere. It wasn't really intended to. It was a- I think an effort to prop up the president's sagging poll numbers. But it did nothing to get us closer to ending the shutdown. The president announced the shutdown, said he'd be proud of it. He is proud of it. He needs to put an end to it. And that's what we hoped we might hear from the president. Look, people have suffered enough. Federal employees are going without another paycheck. I'm going to put an end to this and continue the negotiations that's what he should have done. That's what a real president would do. But instead what this is really about is not border security what this is about is a broken promise that the president made and oft repeated clearly false song and dance act that Mexico was going to build a great big beautiful wall and pay for it--
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you don't see an opportunity here, an opening, for the president to have made this gesture on DACA and TPS recipients getting at least three years of protection?
ADAM SCHIFF: No, it was effectively saying look I created a problem by taking away protections for dreamers. I created another problem by taking away protections for refugees. I'm willing to undo part of the damage temporarily that I have inflicted to get my wall. Well that's really not much of an offer. It wasn't intended to be. At the end of the day, what the president wants is to replace one fraudulent promise with another. The promise that Mexico was going to pay with a promise that taxpayers are now going to pay but somehow get reimbursed through his new NAFTA. Well that's as fraudulent as the original promise.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you interpret the special counsel's statement that seemed to challenge some of the reporting in BuzzFeed that the president directed his attorney to lie to Congress about some business dealings in Russia?
ADAM SCHIFF: Well I assume that this was prompted by the reaction to that BuzzFeed report. But also it may have to do with the special counsel's wanting to be able to use Michael Cohen as a witness in further prosecutions and wanted to make sure that the public didn't have a perception that he was saying more than he was saying at least to the special counsel. But, Margaret, I think we need to pay particular attention to what we do know from the special counsel that was not included in this statement yesterday. What we do know from the special counsel is that Michael Cohen has shared information about core matters of the Russian investigation that he learned from people associated with the Trump Organization, the business organization. We also know from the special counsel that he has shared information about his communications with people associated with the White House during 2017 and 2018. Now is that period during 2017 and 2018 that Michael Cohen was making false statements publicly and to Congress and initially the special counsel about the Trump Tower deal. So there is a lot more to learn and--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you still going to investigate the claims?
ADAM SCHIFF: Absolutely, absolutely. Congress has as a- has a fundamental interest in two things first in getting to the bottom of why a witness came before us and lied and who else was knowledgeable that this was a lie.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you will be asking questions of Michael Cohen?
ADAM SCHIFF: Yes we've--
MARGARET BRENNAN: He'll be appearing before your committee?
ADAM SCHIFF: --given Michael Cohen a date that we'd like him to come in either voluntarily or if necessary by subpoena. But the- the other reason why we have to get to the bottom of this is Bill Barr testified last week that he would not commit to following the advice of ethics lawyers if they urged him to recuse himself and he would not commit to making the Mueller report public. Now either one of those ought to be reasons not to confirm him, but the combination of both should be completely disqualifying.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you subpoena the report in order to make it public?
ADAM SCHIFF: We will do everything necessary to make the report public but more than that, because they will fight us on this, we need to do our own investigations because at the end of the day if the Justice Department tries to stonewall the release of that report for whatever reason, the American people are going to need to know what happened, and we're going to have to press forth. You know the very reason that that Bill Barr gave for wanting to be attorney general that he could help bring a credible resolution to this investigation and ensure confidence in the Justice Department will be impossible given that the public knows he was chosen for his hostility to the investigation. He's refusing to commit to following the ethics advice and should he attempt to bury any part of this report there's no way that a majority-- majority of Americans will have confidence in the result.
MARGARET BRENNAN: If- if the president knew Michael Cohen was going to lie to Congress but didn't explicitly tell him to lie, is that a problem for you? Is there something you can do about that? What is that classified as? Is that obstruction of justice?
ADAM SCHIFF: Well if- if the president knew that a witness was going to lie before Congress but played no role in urging him to lie before Congress, I don't know that it would be a crime, it certainly would be unethical, but this president has done a lot of things that are deeply unethical. But the- the- the question remains and Rudy Giuliani I guess this morning said that he's not writing off the possibility that the president did talk to Michael Cohen about his testimony or that others may have as well. And we need to know exactly what those conversations were, they're certainly not protected by any kind of a privilege. And if anyone was instructing - whether it was the president or other people affiliated with the White House or the Trump Organization - encouraging a witness to lie, we need to know about it. And I will say one other thing. We know that the president's public statements have been false as it pertains to his business dealings with Russia. And so the combination of his public falsehoods with false testimony before Congress certainly contributes to a picture of obstruction of justice.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will continue to track that. Thank you very much, congressman.
ADAM SCHIFF: Thank you.
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