Schiff Appears On ‘CNN Sunday’ & Checkmates Trump With ‘Criminal Conduct’ Announcement


Try as he might to escape their scrutiny, concerned House Democrats are still going after President Donald Trump for his rampant behavior flying in the face of ethical and legal norms. This weekend on CNN’s State of the Union, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) stood firm in his criticism of the president despite Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusions of no prosecutable conspiracy or coordination between Trump’s team and Russia. Schiff explained, quite simply, how the president still has a lot to worry about.

Schiff explained to host Jake Tapper:

‘What we’re talking about here is the difference between conduct that rises to the level of criminality and conduct that is deeply unethical and unpatriotic and corrupt — and may not be criminal, and I think you see [from Republicans] an attitude that ethics don’t matter, that if there’s no crime, there’s no foul. And I think if we get to that point in this country, then we are in a very desperate situation.’

To that end, Schiff is continuing his committee’s look into the president’s team foreign ties, including those to Russia and other nations. He has faced steep criticism from Trump’s camp — and even a campaign t-shirt enshrining an insult the president lobbed — but he isn’t backing down.

He told Tapper:

‘I don’t regret calling out this president for what I consider deeply unethical and improper conduct — not a bit.’

According to reports, some members of Mueller’s team essentially back the Congressman’s continued concern. They’ve expressed concern that Attorney General William Barr’s initial recap letter of their final report did not adequately summarize the material, which they believe is more damaging to the president than the Trump appointee let on. The Justice Department’s best defense was that they were never trying to summarize the report in the first place, which Barr asserted in a follow-up letter — but Mueller’s team members have been concerned about public opinion on the matter being cemented in place by the oversimplifications in Barr’s letter anyway.

He’s apparently set to deliver a redacted version of that report to Congress in coming weeks. His team has been reviewing the material for protected grand jury proceedings, classified information, and the like.

One of the looming questions that Schiff indicated remains unanswered is that of the president’s guilt of obstruction of justice. The Mueller team left it open-ended, refusing to make a final prosecutorial judgment — which Barr stepped in with alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after just two days of review following the report’s delivery.

As the nation deals with the continuing fallout from Trump’s behavior sparking the collusion and obstruction allegations in the first place, there also remain open areas of legal vulnerability, just to be clear. The situation isn’t now just Schiff and allies wondering about the implications for American democracy of the president palling around with Russia. After Mueller submitted his final report, federal prosecutor David Goodhand told a judge that the grand jury that had been impaneled as part of the Mueller probe was “continuing robustly.” Areas of concern that Mueller had raised will now be handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C.

There also remain open lines of inquiry into the Trump team at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which has handled issues ranging from the illegal hush money scheme targeting Trump’s affairs to possible money laundering associated with his inaugural committee.

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