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Reports indicate a gap of nearly eight hours in then-President Trump's phone records on Jan. 6, 2021. It took place during the time frame that his supporters stormed and attacked the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.
As we reported, a U.S. House panel is looking into a gap of nearly eight hours in then-President Donald Trump's phone records from the day rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Democratic Representative Adam Schiff is a member of the House committee investigating January 6, and I spoke with him a short time ago.
Chairman Adam Schiff, thank you so much for joining us.
The news about a gap in the logs that were kept for President Trump's phone calls on January the 6th, how great a concern is that?
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA):
Well, I think there's always a concern when it looks like there may be records missing. We're looking at that very closely, and we're trying to determine, was the president using other phones?
And we have evidence that I can't go into on that subject, but we're trying to get the complete picture. And we're getting a lot of information, not only from the Archives, but from witnesses. And we're putting all the pieces together on, exactly what was the president doing, and more importantly, as it would turn out, what was he failing to do during the time when the Capitol was under attack?
So, former President Trump is saying he's never heard of such a thing as a burner phone. And I think people are asking, was this the result of a deliberate omission by the White House in what it turned over to the National Archives, or was the president using phones that were — belonged to somebody else?
Rep. Adam Schiff:
Well, I don't put much stock in the president's comments, because, of course, he has used many falsehoods in the past.
But, more than that, he can say he doesn't know what a burner phone is, but he does know what a cell phone or a staff cell phone or other people's cell phones are. So, we're looking at the range of possibilities. We want to make sure we have the complete record.
The latest two individuals that the January 6 Committee has charged or recommended be charged with criminal contempt are Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino.
How key are they to this entire investigation?
I think they're both very important witnesses.
Scavino was one of the paramount social media people for the president. And Navarro, of course, has been very open about his Green Bay Sweep, his plan to essentially overturn the presidential election, to compel the vice president to ignore his constitutional duty.
And I hope it's an easy and swift decision for the Justice Department to seek indictments of both of these men for their contempt of Congress.
Well, speaking of the Justice Department, we noticed that you made a point in your remarks to the January 6 Committee last night to say that Justice, in your words — quote — "has a duty to act" on this referral and others that the committee has sent.
Justice so far has pursued prosecution in only one out of the five referrals from the committee. Are you saying that Justice may be failing in its responsibility?
I'm deeply concerned with a couple of things.
First of all, the Justice Department needs to move on these criminal referrals, and it needs to do that with alacrity. We're trying to prevent another attack like January 6, and we feel a real sense of urgency about it.
But, more than that, what I was referring to was the opinion of a California federal judge that the president, the former president, and others likely committed a crime, felony offenses involving conspiracy and fraud and obstruction of the official proceedings, that is, the joint session of Congress.
It's not just an obligation of Congress to be looking into that for accountability. It's also the obligation of the Justice Department. And that means more than the people who broke into the building that day need to be under this kind of scrutiny and investigation by the Justice Department.
And is it your sense that Justice is not doing what it should be doing right now?
I don't see any indication, to give you an example, that the former president's phone call with the secretary of state of Georgia, in which he insisted the secretary find just the exact number of votes he needed to overtake Joe Biden.
I think, if anyone else were on that call and it was recorded in the way it was, they would be under investigation. And it should be no different because someone was a former president. If the rule of law applies to everyone equally, it needs to apply to everyone equally.
And do you hold the attorney general, Merrick Garland, responsible?
Ultimately, the buck stops with the attorney general.
I think there's a desire to distance that the Justice Department from any controversy and not embroil it in any political debate. And while that is laudable, we can't have, at the same time, a policy that effectively means, if you're president of the United States, you are above the law.
So, I am concerned that in a desire to maintain a position above the fray, that credible allegations of illegality, serious allegations, may not be under investigation, when there should be.
Two other quick questions, Congressman Schiff, about the wife of a Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
It's been reported that the January 6 Committee wants to and will seek an interview with Ginni Thomas in connection with her contacts with the White House, with Mark Meadows and others. Can you confirm that?
Anyone that has relevant information, anyone that is in contact with the White House chief of staff, and urging support for this effort to overturn the election, if they have got pertinent information, then they ought to share that with the committee. And the committee is certainly interested in it.
But we have not issued a formal opinion on Ginni Thomas, and so I'm going to defer to the committee until we do.
And, finally, is it your view that Justice Thomas should recuse himself with — when it comes to any cases that have to do with January the 6th, as now the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, is calling on him to do?
You know, I'm going to speak, since I'm a committee member and we're conducting this investigation, at a higher level of generality.
As a prosecutor, I avoided being involved in any case in which not only would there be a conflict, but even the appearance of impropriety. If you have a Supreme Court justice who is sitting on a case in which their spouse is in any way involved, and it gives the public the appearance of a conflict, they ought to go nowhere near that case.
I do think this points out the need for there to be an explicit code of ethics for the Supreme Court, not one that is — applies to court of appeals judges and district judges that they can utilize at their discretion. But I think they ought to have a very clear code that they follow as well.
Congressman Adam Schiff, who is a member of the January 6 Committee and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, thank you very much.
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