A group of House Republicans on Thursday called on House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) to resign from his post because he has repeatedly expressed concerns that President Donald Trump may have colluded with America’s political adversaries. In response, Schiff shot back with a detailed list of all of the times that Trump associates have had contact with Russians, admonishing his colleagues for normalizing that conduct, even if it stops short of a criminal conspiracy.
“I have always said that the question of whether this amounts to conspiracy is another matter,” Schiff said during the heated exchange. “But I do not think that conduct, criminal or not, is okay — and the day we do think that’s okay is the day we will look back and say, ‘that is the day America lost its way.'”
Reading a letter signed by nine Republican committee members calling for Schiff to step down as chairman, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) had claimed moments prior that Schiff’s “willingness to promote a demonstrably false narrative is alarming.”
“The findings of the special counsel conclusively refute your past and present assertions and expose you of having abused your position to knowingly promote false information,” Conaway said, referring to a four-page summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s still-secret report, released Sunday.
“Having damaged the integrity of the committee and having undermined the faith of the United States government and this institution, your actions both past and present are incompatible with your duty as chairman of this committee,” Conaway continued.
The letter came on the heels of Trump calling for Schiff to resign not just his post on the House Intelligence Committee, but also his seat in Congress.
Congressman Adam Schiff, who spent two years knowingly and unlawfully lying and leaking, should be forced to resign from Congress!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2019
Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the special counsel’s report relayed that Mueller concluded there is not enough evidence to conclude Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia. But the nine Republicans who signed onto the letter presumably don’t know exactly what evidence Mueller outlined in his report, which is reportedly over 300 pages long and has not yet been publicly released.
As Schiff pointed out during the exchange on Thursday, there are still many questions about Trump’s ties to Russia that remain unanswered. Schiff cited a number of examples of possible connections between Trump associates and Moscow that he believes his Republican colleagues have not taken seriously.
For instance, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., confessed in 2017 to meeting with Kremlin-tied Russians knowing they wanted to offer dirt on his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton at Trump Tower. That meeting was attended by the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner — who is now a White House adviser — and his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has since been convicted of a number of crimes in two different federal courts after he lied to Mueller’s office about his relationship with long-time business associate Konstantin Kilimnik, who the FBI says had close ties to Russian intelligence. Manafort was also found to have shared polling data with Kilimnik.
Trump himself confirmed the purpose of that meeting was to obtain damaging information on Clinton from the Russians in a tweet last year.
During a campaign stop in 2016, Trump also called on Russia to hack the Clinton campaign’s emails. Russian intelligence officers did in fact hack Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta’s emails shortly after that statement and released them through the website WikiLeaks. People within the Trump campaign’s inner circle reportedly knew about the WikiLeaks release in advance and discussed the Clinton dirt with Russian Twitter account known as Guccifer 2.0. (John Podesta is a founder of the Center for American Progress. ThinkProgress is an editorially independent news site housed at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.)
Kushner also reportedly discussed with Russia’s former U.S. ambassador Sergey Kislyak the possibility of creating secret communication back channels between Moscow and Trump’s transition team so they could discuss policy issues.
Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn misled the FBI about conversations he had with Russia’s ambassador surrounding lifting sanctions on Russia.
Trump also allegedly lied about the timeline surrounding a billion-dollar project his organization planned to complete to build a massive skyscraper in Moscow that was still ongoing through his campaign. Trump’s personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, who was found guilty of lying to the House Intelligence Committee last year and has since cooperated with Mueller, has accused Trump of a number crimes related to his business empire.
“You might say that’s all okay. You might say that’s just what you need to do to win. But I don’t think it’s okay. I think it’s immoral, I think it’s unethical, I think it’s unpatriotic, and yes, I think it’s corrupt and evidence of collusion,” Schiff concluded.
Since Barr’s summary memo was made public Friday, Republicans in Congress have ignored still-unanswered questions about what details the full Mueller report includes, whether evidence suggests the president may have committed any other crimes beyond the purview of Mueller’s probe, and how to respond to the Russian attacks on America’s election system.
Instead, White House officials and Republican members of Congress have responded to the summary memo by making political attacks on Democrats, including by telling media stations to question their credibility before booking them.