BEDFORD, N.H. — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Monday vowed to do everything possible to make sure Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian ties to President Trump’s 2016 campaign is made public.
And the Democratic congressman from California slammed Trump as a “deeply unethical president.”
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But Schiff, speaking in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, said “I’m not running” when asked if he was mulling a 2020 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Schiff traveled to New Hampshire the day after the airing of a CBS News interview in which the president would not commit to making Mueller’s report public.
“I don’t know,” Trump said. “It depends. I have no idea what it’s going to say.”
Federal law doesn’t require the Justice Department to release a report, and Mueller has not weighed in on the issue.
For nearly two years, the special counsel has been investigating Russian tampering with the 2016 presidential election and whether Moscow colluded with the Trump campaign.
Schiff said during a speech in Bedford that if “the Justice Department or the administration somehow tries to block publication of the report,” he would push to make it public.
“This is too big to be buried. This is of too great of consequence to the country to be swept under the rug,” he added. “We are going to use every capability we have to make sure that the public gets to see the product of Mr. Mueller’s work.”
Schiff also highlighted the president’s latest feud with his intelligence chiefs.
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He warned that “we are less safe because we have a president making decisions based on a fiction, based on a world that is imagining, not the world that as we see it and as we know it.”
Last week, after reading media reports about testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Trump said “the intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naïve” when it comes to Iran and North Korea.
Schiff claimed “the president disagrees with our intelligence experts and not because of division with the intelligence community or other sources of intelligence that the president may have, but because it just doesn’t fit with what he wants to tell us.”
Schiff argued the president’s criticism could lead to a drying up of vital information that the intelligence agencies depend on.
And he said that Trump is playing directly into Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s hands.
“There’s also a risk in a president who ignores or disputes and denigrates the professionals within our intelligence community and that is it invites our enemies and our adversaries to do the same. What could be better for Vladimir Putin than a president of the United States who says ‘I don’t particularly believe our intelligence agencies. I don’t believe them when they tell me Russia interfered in our democracy.’”
He told reporters later that “normally in a circumstance like this the president of the United States would be pushing back against the rise of authoritarianism, but this president is making common cause with the autocrats.”
And he charged that “the most acute threat to our democracy right now comes from an administration that believes that you’re the enemy of the people. That doesn’t revere the First Amendment. That belittles the independence of our judges and denigrates the Justice Department and undermines the work of the FBI and tells friends and foes alike that our intelligence agencies can’t be trusted.”
Schiff was speaking at “Politics and Eggs,” a speaking series that over the past two decades has become a must-stop for White House hopefuls.
But the 10-term Democratic congressman made clear he wasn’t running, adding that “in terms of who is running and who is best positioned to defeat Trump, I think we have a lot of extraordinary candidates.”
And he stressed that “I want these issues to be on the agenda for our candidates. I want them talking about the threat to our democracy, the threat to human rights, I want them to be defending our institutions.”
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The Republican National Committee on Monday took aim at Schiff and his criticism of the president.
“Rep. Adam Schiff is just another out-of-touch California Democrat looking to shove his brand of resistance on Granite Staters,” RNC spokesperson Mandi Merritt said.
After his speech, Schiff mingled with local politicians at Manchester’s Puritan Backroom restaurant, another frequent stop for presidential contenders. Later, he headlined a house party with the Bedford Democrats.
Asked by Fox News why he put together a New Hampshire itinerary that had the look and feel of a presidential campaign visit if he wasn’t running, Schiff said, “I’m part of a small but occasionally influential group who do speak in New Hampshire who are not running for president.”
“Most of the speaking I’ve had over the last couple of years has been focused on trying to sound the alarm on the issues I talked about today, as well as helping shape the Democratic Party agenda and helping my House colleagues. I’ll be doing a lot of that as my day job permits,” he added.