Adam Schiff: ‘Autocratic Cult’ Around Donald Trump — ‘Not Interested in Governing’

Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the Republican Party was “an autocratic cult around Donald Trump,” and it was “not interested in governing.”

Partial transcript as follows:

BRENNAN: That’s the challenge is when you’re doing it only on party lines, it once again looks to people at home like, they can’t get along, Washington’s not working again.

SCHIFF: Well, look, we have a Republican Party that is now an autocratic cult around Donald Trump. It is not interested in governing. It’s not interested in even maintaining the solvency in the credit worthiness of the country. And we have to recognize that they’re not interested in governing. And so we’re going to govern, we’re going to have to do it. And if we have to do it with our own votes, we will do that. But we need to show that democracy delivers, that it can help people put food on the table, that it can address these huge disparities in income. There’s so much reason why our democracy is at this fragile point right now, and we need to foremost deliver on the economy, but also on voting rights and stop these efforts to disenfranchise people.

BRENNAN: You just made an incredible statement about an autocratic cult. This is one of the themes in your book. You aren’t often compared to conservative writers like Robert Kagan, but you come to basically the same conclusion he just did in a very widely read essay where he says essentially that it’s the Republican Party that is trying to lay the groundwork to challenge the next few elections. You say preparing the battlefield for the struggle to overturn the election, should they regain majorities in Congress, they might be successful. You’re saying we’re on the cusp of a constitutional crisis?

SCHIFF: Yes. And this is really why I wrote the book because I want it to sound the alarm that our democracy is hanging by a thread right now as a member of the January 6 committee. You know, I have to acknowledge there may be another violent attack on the Capitol, but what is even more pressing a threat is what we see Republicans doing around the country taking this big lie about the last election and running with it. And I wanted to tell the story in this book about how- how does that happen, how in four short years does our democracy become so threatened? And one of the terrible realizations for me is that so many of the people I worked with across the aisle, who I admired and respected because I believe that they believed what they were saying, turned out not to believe it at all. That the only thing that they cared about was the maintenance of their power or position. And I want to show people how that happens, how people start by making small compromises of their morality and their values and their ideology and end up completely capitulating because one of the things we discovered in the impeachment trial, but really both trials is that there’s nothing wrong about our constitution. The provisions are brilliant. But unless they’re animated by people who- who give content to their oath that- that understand the importance of right and wrong, none of it works. And right now, we saw Grassley in Iowa yesterday, unable to condemn the president’s effort to- to get the Justice Department to overturn the election. Scalise this morning, another Republican leader unable to acknowledge that the election wasn’t stolen. It’s these personal capitulations that are putting our country at risk.

BRENNAN: And that’s a shift from where Sen. Grassley, who accepted the president- former president’s endorsement, was right after the events of January 6. But I want to come back to where you lay blame because you say it’s “we, the country who made Donald Trump possible. We- he would not have been able to batter and break so many of our democratic norms had we not let him. Had we not been capable of endless rationalization, had we not forgotten why we came to office in the first place.” What responsibility do you think Democrats have for damaging the faith of the country as well?

SCHIFF: Look, I think Democrats have been defending our democracy for the last five years. We have put up a valiant fight for the heart and soul of this country, so I really can’t lay the blame at the Democratic Party.

BRENNAN: You don’t take any responsibility.

SCHIFF: Well, look, I- as I acknowledge in my book, there are lots of things I could have done differently or better. But at the end of the day, one of our two great parties has completely abandoned its ideology. It has made itself an anti-truth, anti-democratic cult of the former president, and the responsibility is on that party to once again become a party of ideas. And there are some hopeful signs. And one of the things I want to emphasize in the book too is there are also some great profiles in courage that emerge from this period. One of them you’re going to have on your show later today, Fiona Hill. But Marie Yovanovitch and Alexander Vindman, people like Dan Coats, you know, Republicans like Dan Coats, who- who did their duty, defended the intelligence community wouldn’t carry out the president’s big lies. And we need to be inspired by those examples because we all have a role to play right now in the preservation of this democracy.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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