Republicans have made House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff their new bogeyman as they run a victory lap over Attorney General William Barr’s report on the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Republicans have called for Schiff to resign as chairman for repeatedly declaring he had seen evidence of collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump, including a claim that “there is more than circumstantial evidence.”
Those statements do not necessarily contradict the summary of the Mueller report put forward by Attorney General William Barr stating that that there is insufficient evidence to pursue charges against people affiliated with the president’s 2016 campaign.
But Republicans have called out Schiff’s rhetoric — including the claim that an investigation into ties between Russia and the president would uncover a scheme “beyond Watergate”— as hyperbolic at best.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called Schiff “unfit” for the job.
After two years of manufactured outrage on this issue, it’s time we move on for the good of the nation.
McCarthy’s deputy, Republican Whip Steve Scalise, stopped short of calling for Schiff to give up his gavel.
“He’s lost his credibility,” Scalise said. “He made very serious claims and charges against the president … that turn out to be untrue. And you know you you can’t just do that and and have it not be accurate. I mean, at a minimum, he ought to come clean with the people who gave them that information, because it was false information.”
Some Republicans have been more biting in their remarks.
“He was being dishonest with the American people about what was happening in the Intel Committee,” GOP Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, a member of the Intelligence Committee, told CNN. “It’s a personal vendetta by Adam Schiff at this point.”
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway also called for Schiff’s resignation, citing his frequent appearances on cable news.
“He ought to resign today. He’s been on every TV show 50 times a day for practically the past two years promising Americans that this president would either be impeached or indicted,” Conway said.
And Fox News host Sean Hannity, with whom Trump frequently consults, singled out the “cowardly” Intel Committee chairman in a rant that opened his Monday night show and in an op-ed piece posted on the network’s website.
GOP Rep. Peter King of New York said it’s time for Schiff to “put up or shut up.”
“I actually got along with Adam for a number of years,” King told Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday. “But the last two years he’s gone off the rails. I mean I would be at the same testimony that he was, listening to all of the key witnesses, and there was not an inch — not an ounce of collusion in any of that.
“And then I’d see he’d be on CNN talking about the mounting evidence of collusion. There was none. There was none then. There’s none now. And Adam should either put up or shut up because he’s really hurting himself. I think he’s hurting the Democratic Party. But, more than that, hurting the country.”
Schiff dismissed the criticism.
“I’m more than used to attacks from my GOP colleagues and I would expect nothing less,” Schiff told CNN.
Schiff recommitted to investigating the president in an interview with the network on Monday.
Schiff said he is “circumspect about [the committee’s] ability” to discover more information than Mueller has already unearthed about questions concerning Russian interference in the 2016 election.
But the chairman said he will continue to delve into whether Trump has compromised national security through his personal dealings with foreign governments. In particular, Schiff cited a scuttled $300 million deal between the Trump Organization and a Russian real estate developer.
“Was the president driven during the campaign and to this day by financial interests, in consummating a lucrative real estate deal in Moscow Trump Tower or for any other illicit purpose?” Schiff said. “That work needs to go on. And we’re committed to doing our oversight until we get answers.”
And Democrats have his back. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer addressed the issue before he was asked about it in his weekly pen and pad briefing with the media on Tuesday, telling reporters “Mr. Schiff is going to be chairing that committee for a long time to come.”
Griffin Connolly and Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.