House Intelligence Committee chairman and lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said he would not do anything different in the impeachment of President Donald Trump because Republican Senators were saying the House “proved” their case.
Partial transcript as follows:
BRENNAN: What do you think this impeachment accomplished?
SCHIFF: What’s remarkable is you now have Republican senators coming out and saying, yes, the House proved its case. The House proved the corrupt scheme that they charged in the articles of impeachment. The president did withhold hundreds of millions of dollars from an ally to try to coerce that ally into helping him cheat in the next election. That’s pretty remarkable when you now have senators on both sides of the aisle admitting the House made its case and the only question is, should the president be removed for office because he’s been found guilty of these offenses? I think it’s enormously important that the country understand exactly what this president did, and we have proved it. I also think it’s important that the Senate take the next step, having found him guilty, if indeed that’s what they have found. They need to remove him from office because he is threatening to still cheat in the next election by soliciting foreign interference. And so the normal remedy for a president’s misconduct isn’t available here because the elections, he is already trying to prejudice and compromise with further foreign interference.
BRENNAN: But you know the votes aren’t there to remove the president from office. As you said, Senators Rubio, Alexander, Portman have all said in some way or another they found the act- the actions of the president inappropriate, but not enough to oust him. So the bottom line here seems to be that the president will get away with what they’re calling inappropriate. What are Democrats going to do? What do you do next?
SCHIFF: Well, first of all, to call solicitation, coercion, blackmail of a foreign power, an ally at war, by withholding military aid to get help in cheating in the next election merely inappropriate, doesn’t begin to do justice to the gravity of this president’s misconduct, misconduct that I think undermined our national security as well as that of our ally and threatens the integrity- the integrity of our elections. Now, if the senators still won’t act, even though they know the truth now, even though they’ve acknowledged what the president did- look, I still think it’s enormously important that the president was impeached because the country is moving away from its democratic ideals. And I think by standing up to this president as we have, by making the case to the American people, by exposing his wrongdoing, we are helping to slow the momentum away from our democratic values, until that progress away from democracy can be arrested and we can return to some sense of normalcy and support for the founders’ ideal. But I’m not letting the senators off the hook. We’re still going to go into to the Senate this week and make the case why this president needs to be removed. It will be up to the senators to make that final judgment and the senators will be held accountable for it.
BRENNAN: But given where the numbers are now, you’ve said in the past you would consider subpoenaing John Bolton in the House. Is it inevitable? Will you subpoena him?
SCHIFF: I- I don’t want to comment to this point on what our plans may or may not be with respect to John Bolton, but I will say this: whether it’s before- in testimony before the House or it’s in his book or it’s in one form or another, the truth will come out as- will continue to come out. Indeed, MARGARET, one of the astounding things, and this shows you just how disingenuous the president’s defense is, on Friday night at midnight the president’s lawyers at the Justice Department revealed to a court that they were withholding documents from the Office of Management and Budget showing the personal motivations— we can only assume because they’re communications involving the president–
SCHIFF: –vice president or top people around him— about the freeze. Now, they waited until midnight so that senators voting on whether to compel these documents would not have the- that information. That shows you the lengths to which the president’s lawyers are going to cover this up. But they’re going to fail. Indeed, they failed already. And the senators are going to have to answer the question over time as more and more comes out, why didn’t you do more to find this out before you had to render your verdict? Why bury your head in the sand when you knew this information was out there? I wouldn’t want to have to answer those questions.
BRENNAN: Well, you know, you lost this vote on witnesses by just two Republicans, two votes. Senator Lisa Murkowski, one of the potential targets for you, said the articles of impeachment were rushed and flawed. She was looking at the work you did. And when she announced her vote against witnesses, she went on to say, given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I’ve come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. How do you respond to this?
SCHIFF: Well, look, I would only say with respect to Senator Murkowski and the other senators as well, they’re not mere spectators here. When the senator laments that there’s not a fair trial in the Senate, it’s up to the senators to make it a fair trial. It is within their power to make it a fair trial with four votes, with four courageous senators saying no we’re going to demand a fair trial no matter what this president may say. There would have been a fair trial. There would have been witnesses and testimony–
BRENNAN: But is there anything you would have done differently?
SCHIFF: –So it’s not as if she was powerless to do something about this. Look, there’s nothing that I can see that we could have done differently because as the senators have already admitted, we proved our case. We proved our case. Now, the president’s lawyers have said time and again, I think, hoping through sheer repetition to make something true that is in fact untrue, that the process in this impeachment was different than in Nixon and Clinton. In fact, the president had the same due process rights, which he did not avail himself of in this process as in the prior ones. That is not an excuse that should be used by any senator for not fulfilling their obligation to hold a fair trial. They’re not spectators. They have control over the proceedings. And they could have insisted on witnesses and documents and for whatever reason, chose not to. And for those who would say, well, let’s let the voters decide when the president is trying to cheat in that very election, and they don’t want the voters to have the full information, they want the president–
SCHIFF: — to continue to be able to cover it up. That’s just completely unsatisfactory.
BRENNAN: But you could have stuck with that subpoena of John Bolton that you initially- of his deputy, Charles Kupperman, that was seen as kind of a proxy for John Bolton that the House then pulled back from. And this is one of the chief criticisms of the case that you made, that you didn’t take it to the courts, that the House could have had a win in its pocket and moved this forward. How do you respond to that? Was it a misstep?
SCHIFF: Well, first of all, yes, no, it wasn’t at all. And I think it’s a disingenuous argument for the president’s lawyers to make for a couple of reasons. First of all, if we continue with litigation, as we are doing at this moment with Don McGahn, and we subpoenaed him nine months ago and we’re still nowhere near a final resolution, it would probably be one to two years before we would have had a decision on John Bolton. That means the president would have been able to cheat in the next election with impunity because they could have simply delayed and played out the clock. But as we showed during the trial, it’s worse than that because while the president’s lawyers are in court, in the- in the Senate court, saying the House should have made more efforts to overcome our obstructionism, they’re making that remarkable argument, in court on the very same day they were making that argument, in court other Trump lawyers were saying, judge, you can’t hear this case to compel Don McGahn to testify because you’re not empowered to enforce Congressional subpoenas. So they’re arguing out of both sides of their mouth. The senators could see that. The senators should not allow them to get away with that.
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