President Trump and other Republicans have been relentlessly attacking Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, in recent days. They’re seeking payback against the high-profile lawmaker, who leads a committee investigating Russian interference in US elections and any links or coordination between US citizens and the Russian government.
The Republicans’ attacks come after Attorney General William Barr on Sunday summarized Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s much-anticipated report, saying Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia” in election interference. (The report did not reach “legal conclusions” on another crucial question — whether the president obstructed justice, though Barr, a Trump appointee, stepped in and said Trump would not be charged. A redacted version of the nearly 400-page report is expected to be released by mid-April.)
Trump tweeted Thursday, ‘‘Congressman Adam Schiff, who spent two years knowingly and unlawfully lying and leaking, should be forced to resign from Congress!’’ and attacked him further at a rally Thursday night, calling him, among other things, a “little pencil neck.”
“It’s all lies, and they know it’s lies,” he said.
Republicans in Congress wrote a letter, saying that after the tough questions Schiff had raised about contacts between Trump, his associates, and Russia, ‘‘We have no faith in your ability to discharge your responsibilities.“
But there were plenty of troubling links between President Trump and his associates and Russia, even if the actions didn’t rise to the level of criminality. And Schiff’s forceful response to Republican Representative Mike Conaway, who read the letter aloud at a committee hearing on Thursday, offers a handy, brief outline.
Here’s a transcript of what Schiff said, which hewed close to major media reports and the indictments of Trump associates already made by Mueller. Links have been added for clarity.
My colleagues may think it’s OK that the Russians offered dirt on the Democratic candidate for president as part of what was described as the Russian government’s effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that’s OK.
My colleagues might think it’s OK that, when that was offered to the son of the president, who had a pivotal role in the campaign, that the president’s son did not call the FBI, he did not adamantly refuse that foreign help.
No, instead that son said that he would love the help of the Russians. You might think it’s OK that he took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that Paul Manafort, the campaign chair, someone with great experience in running campaigns, also took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that the president’s son-in-law also took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that they concealed it from the public. You might think it’s OK that their only disappointment after that meeting was that the dirt they received on Hillary Clinton wasn’t better. You might think that’s OK.
You might think it’s OK that when it was discovered a year later that they lied about that meeting, and said it was about adoptions. You might think it’s OK that the president is reported to have helped dictate that lie. You might think that’s OK. I don’t.
You might think it’s OK that the campaign chairman of a presidential campaign would offer information about that campaign to a Russian oligarch in exchange for money or debt forgiveness,. You might think that’s OK. I don’t.
You might think it’s OK that that campaign chairman offered polling data, campaign polling data, to someone linked to Russian intelligence. I don’t think that’s OK.
You might think it’s OK that the president himself called on Russia to hack his opponents’ e-mails if they were listening. You might think it’s OK that, later that day, in fact, the Russians attempted to hack a server affiliated with that campaign. I don’t think that’s OK.
You might think that it’s OK that the president’s son-in-law sought to establish a secret back channel of communications with the Russians through a Russian diplomatic facility. I don’t think that’s OK.
You might think it’s OK that an associate of the president made direct contact with the GRU through Guccifer 2 and Wikileaks that is considered a hostile intelligence agency. You might think that it’s OK a senior campaign official was instructed to reach that associate and find out what that hostile intelligence agency had to say in terms of dirt on his opponent.
You might think it’s OK that the national security adviser-designate secretly conferred with a Russian ambassador about undermining US sanctions and you might think it’s OK he lied about it to the FBI. You might say that’s all OK. You might say that’s just what you need to do to win.
But I don’t think it’s OK. 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.
Now I have always said that the question of whether this amounts to proof of conspiracy was another matter. Whether the special counsel could prove beyond a reasonable doubt the proof of that crime would be up to the special counsel and I would accept his decision, and I do.
He’s a good and honorable man, and he is a good prosecutor. But I do not think that conduct, criminal or not, is OK. And the day we do think that’s OK is the day we will look back and say that is the day America lost its way.
And I will tell you one more thing that is apropos of the hearing today — I don’t think it’s OK that during the presidential campaign Mr. Trump sought the Kremlin’s help to consummate a real estate deal in Moscow that would make him a fortune, according to the special counsel, hundreds of millions of dollars. I don’t think it’s OK he concealed it from the public. I don’t think it’s OK that he advocated a new and more favorable policy towards the Russians, even as he was seeking the Russians’ help, the Kremlin’s help, to make money. I don’t think it’s OK that his attorney lied to our committee. There’s a different word for that. Than collusion. And it’s called compromise. And that is the subject of our hearing today.