Politics

Adam Schiff Brandishes the Other T Word: Timeout

House Intelligence Committee top Democrat returns fire at Trump

From left, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, arrive on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence vote on releasing the Democratic response to the Republican memo alleging FBI bias against President Donald Trumpon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Intelligence ranking member Adam Schiff responded to President Donald Trump’s Twitter criticism of him Monday by calling for the commander-in-chief to be reprimanded like a child.

“It may be time for General Kelly to give the president a timeout,” the California Democrat said in an interview with CNN, referring to Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly. “I think the country would certainly benefit from that anyway.”

Trump attacked Schiff on Twitter Monday morning, calling him “one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington” and saying he needs to be stopped.

“I don’t know; it’s often hard to understand the president’s tweets,” Schiff said when asked how he interpreted president’s phrasing of “must be stopped.”

“But as all the press that have dealt with me know, I’m very careful not to disclose classified information or even things that happen in closed session, so it’s a baseless attack,” he added.

Watch: State of the Union Breath Mints, Groundhog Day and Trump Pointing, Pointing, Pointing: Congressional Hits and Misses

Schiff made fun of the nicknames that Trump has given him.

“First he attacked me some months ago calling me 'sleazy' Adam Schiff. Now it’s 'little' Adam Schiff, which I don’t know seems better. It’s all so confusing.”

Schiff said House Intelligence Democrats have not leaked anything that should not have been leaked. He said he thinks Trump is actually concerned about Donald Trump Jr. appearing before the committee and refusing to answer questions about the false statement they put out on the meeting at Trump Tower with a lawyer claiming to represent Russia.

“We called them out on it,” Schiff said. “In our committee when witnesses refuse to answer questions we do make that public. ... So they were embarrassed by the fact that the president’s son claimed some attorney-client privilege when neither he nor his father is attorney nor a client. That’s really when this started, when the president’s son, the president started attacking me as a supposed leaker.”

“The work on that false statement goes directly to the issue of potential obstruction of justice,” Schiff added.

Schiff called the president’s comment Monday that Democrats were “treasonous” for not reacting positively to his State of the Union address inappropriate.

“This is the kind of demagoguery that we have come to expect from this president,” he said. “To accuse those who oppose him of treason, it’s the new and only the lowest step that this president has descended to. But of course that’s in a long catalog of descending steps.”

Schiff also spoke about the debate over the release of a memo drafted by House Intelligence Committee Republicans that accused the FBI and Justice Department of bias in the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, saying that he doesn’t expect this to be the end of Republican efforts to combat special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

“It’s clear that this spin memo doesn’t discredit Mueller’s office at all or investigation, although that is the intention,” he said, adding that Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes “has made it clear this is just part one of an effort to interfere with the Mueller investigation.”

Schiff said he believes the White House will approve the declassification of the Democratic rebuttal to the GOP’s memo because of public pressure but noted he worries about “censoring” of the information through heavy redaction.

“I fully expect they’re going to have to release it,” he said. “The concern I do have though is they have the power to redact it in a way that takes out information that they feel would be hurtful to their argument either that there’s no collusion or that the Justice Department has engaged in some maligned conspiracy against them.”

The Democratic memo will show that the FBI and DOJ disclosed to the FISA court that the dossier they cited in their warrant application “was likely supported by a political act with a political motivation,” he said, calling the GOP assertion that was not disclosed “misleading.”

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