As the United States continues to grapple with the political fallout from Special Counsel Robert Mueller dropping the final summary of his Russia investigation, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is responding to those calling for his resignation over his past claims of clear evidence of conspiracy between the Trump team and Kremlin, which Mueller did not find. He’s insisting, quite simply, that he won’t resign either from his committee or from Congress altogether, telling a reporter on Capitol Hill:
‘I’m more than used to attacks by my GOP colleagues and I would expect nothing less.’
— The Hill (@thehill) March 26, 2019
For years on the intel panel, first as its ranking member and now as chairman, he has pushed the assertion that there’s reason for deep concern about the president’s team’s ties to Russia, but Mueller found no evidence of conspiracy or coordination between the two entities. Although there are mountains of evidence in the public sphere about the Trump team’s covert interactions with the Kremlin — and Mueller’s report explicitly acknowledged the multiple times that the Russians reached out to the Trump team — none of the activity rose to the level of conspiracy provable beyond a reasonable doubt.
Whether or not he could get convicted by a jury is not the only standard Schiff wants to hold the president to. Although he insisted that he “certainly accepts” the special counsel’s findings in further conversations with reporters this week, he pointed to the possibility of further ties between the Trump team and Russia that are “compromising” and again indicated his aims to get the full actual Mueller report.
Schiff was among half a dozen House committee chairs who signed onto a letter this week demanding that Attorney General William Barr release the full Mueller report to Congress by April 2. On Sunday, he submitted a four page summary to the body that hit only the top-level key points from the investigation, and offered some new conclusions of his own, like that Trump is not guilty of obstruction of justice.
Besides seeking the underlying evidence on the Trump team’s ties to Russia, House Democrats also want further clarification on that point. Barr took it upon himself to exonerate Trump in the face of obstruction of justice allegations after the special counsel declined to make a traditional prosecutorial decision. Notably, Barr did so in only two days, after having long established his opposition to the allegations in the first place, even before he was nominated for his present position.
In light of these issues, Schiff will be continuing his committee’s investigation into the Trump team’s ties to foreign powers, explaining to reporters this week:
‘Our investigation has always focused on counterintelligence issues, that is, is the president or anyone around him compromised in some way. That work has to go on.’
Asked Schiff tonight if he would drop his probe after Mueller didn’t find a Trump-Russia conspiracy, and he said: “Our investigation has always focused on counterintelligence issues, that is, is the president or anyone around him compromised in some way. That work has to go on.” pic.twitter.com/JIEKIgveX3
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 26, 2019
He’s faced calls for his resignation from either Congress as a whole or his committee from everyone from Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who added that he “owes the American public an apology” — without acknowledging the mountains of suspicion-warranting evidence that stacked up against the Trump team.
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