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Schiff says House GOP hasn’t taken advantage of depositions

On Thursday, the House formalized procedures for the impeachment inquiry's next phase -- with no Republican support. California Rep. Adam Schiff chairs the House Intelligence Committee, which is central to the process. He talks to Nick Schifrin about how the process aligns with previous impeachments and why the president's conduct left "no choice" but to proceed with the impeachment inquiry.

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  • Nick Schifrin:

    Now that the U.S. House of Representatives has approved rules for the next phase of the impeachment inquiry, what happens now?

    Democrat Adam Schiff of California is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which is playing a central role in the impeachment effort.

    Chairman Schiff, thank you very much. Welcome to the "NewsHour."

    Today's vote was entirely along party lines. How do you convince the public that this is not a partisan attempt to, as the president says, overturn the election?

  • Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.:

    Well, I think by letting the public hear from the witnesses themselves.

    At the end of the day, this is all about the facts, what are the facts. And I think the American people will see that there are very serious problems with the president's conduct, grave problems, in terms of his abuse of the powers of that office, his sacrificing of U.S. interests, our national security interests, in favor of personal and political interests.

    So, I think the best way to show the American people why we had to take this serious step of moving forward with our impeachment inquiry will be allowing the American people to hear firsthand from those that were eyewitnesses to this kind of abuse of power.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Republicans call your effort a partisan crusade against a president you have never liked.

    You yourself for years have been criticizing many of President Trump's national security decisions. Do Republicans have a point? Are you going after a president that you haven't liked long before Ukraine became an issue?

  • Rep. Adam Schiff:

    Well, it is certainly true that I take serious issues with the president on matters of policy, on matters of character and ethics, on his propensity for falsehood.

    But my Republican colleagues conveniently forget the fact that, for a long time, I was one of the relatively few senior members who was urging us not to move forward with a formal impeachment proceeding, that we should take the process one step at a time, learn the facts, that we shouldn't rush to embrace this extraordinary remedy.

    It was only when this most serious conduct came to light that I felt like we had no choice.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Of course, there are questions of the procedures for that impeachment, which are not written in the Constitution.

    The procedures that you passed today prevent Republicans from issuing subpoenas, unless Democrats approve or unless you personally approve. Why not give them the opportunity to submit their own subpoenas?

  • Rep. Adam Schiff:

    Well, this is the same process and the same procedures that were used during the Clinton impeachment and the Nixon impeachment, although it has been represented otherwise by my GOP friends.

    The minority didn't have unilateral subpoena power. They could compel a vote. And that's the right that we give them here.

    But we have seen from a lot of my GOP colleagues, with their storming into the SCIF and their histrionics, a fundamental lack of seriousness, indeed, a view that they exist to do the president's will, to be the president's defenders.

    When the president says, you have got to be more aggressive, they decide to be more aggressive. When the president says, you have got to do this stunt, they go and do that stunt.

    That is not a group you can give unilateral subpoena authority to. A lot of the same people complaining about this secret chamber have refused to take advantage of the fact that they could participate.

    When the transcripts are released, the American people will see that, in fact, it was eminently fair, that every Republican who had a question got their questions answered.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Mr. Chairman, I have only have so much time. I'm sorry to interrupt you.

  • Rep. Adam Schiff:

    Yes.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    But you just said when the transcripts are released.

    When will those transcripts are — released? And when will these public hearings take place, which you just voted on, even though you still have private depositions scheduled for Monday?

  • Rep. Adam Schiff:

    In terms of when the transcripts will be released, that was authorized by the resolution just passed today. And we expect to begin releasing them very soon. We still have to…

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Do you have a sense of timing?

  • Rep. Adam Schiff:

    You know, I think early next week is probably the realistic time.

    And we still need to go through some of the transcripts and excise any potentially classified information or personal information. But they will be released very soon.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Chairman, we just got word that a judge has ruled that Mr. Kupperman, the former deputy national security adviser, will not be compelled to testify, or at least there won't be a decision about whether he will be compelled to testify until at least December 10.

    That will affect him and his former boss National Security Adviser John Bolton. Do you have a response to that?

  • Rep. Adam Schiff:

    In this case, there is no standing to sue in federal court if you don't like a congressional subpoena.

    So, we have every confidence that that suit will fail. But the whole goal of it is to delay. It's part of the obstruction effort by the administration. And as they obstruct the impeachment inquiry, they are just building the case for an article of impeachment based on obstruction.

    So, even as they try to prevent us from getting relevant information — and we believe that Dr. Kupperman has relevant information on the issues at the core of our investigation — even as they try to prevent those facts from coming to light — and I certainly expect that, if the administration thought those would be helpful to the president, he would be coming in.

    They must conclude that they are incriminating of the president. But they are merely building the case for obstruction of Congress.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    And will you delay your public hearings until you have a final word on Dr. Kupperman and John Bolton?

  • Rep. Adam Schiff:

    It fully is my expectation that we would see with the administration the same kind of delay tactics rope-a-dope.

    If they lose in the district court, they will appeal to the court of appeals. If they lose there, they will ask for an en banc hearing.

    So I think Dr. Kupperman understands that he's going to lose that litigation. Indeed, he will be found not have standing, but, apparently, it is his desire to try to avoid testifying, avoid the obligation and the duty that others have had the courage to undertake.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, thank you very much.

  • Rep. Adam Schiff:

    Thank you.

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