As the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) has taken charge of the oversight of the congressional probe into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia — an investigation that was previously hampered by the president’s Republican protectors on the committee.
Rep. Schiff’s leading role means that he’s a regular guest on Sunday morning news programs looking for thoughtful and critical insight into congressional reactions to President Trump’s latest outrage du jour.
Appearing on CNN‘s “State of the Union” this morning, Schiff did not disappoint host Dana Bash when asked about the president’s petulant declaration of a national emergency as a constitutionally dubious method of thwarting congressional intent in denying Trump funding for his massively expensive and ineffective border wall.
Noting that Congress had very explicitly rejected Trump’s request for the level of border wall funding he desired, Schiff predicted that the emergency declaration would be easily shut down by legal challenges, particularly since the loose cannon of a president so thoroughly undermined his own argument with his rambling, loose-lipped, ad-libbed comments at the press conference announcing his declaration.
“And in saying just the other day that he didn’t really need to do this. He just wanted to do it because it would help things go faster. He’s pretty much daring the court to strike this down,” Schiff told CNN.
“So it’s hard to imagine a poorer case but I’ll say this Dana, it’s going to be a real test for my GOP colleagues in Congress and their devotion to this institution,” Schiff challenged his GOP colleagues.
The California congressman cited the basic constitutional separation of powers between the different branches of government as under threat from Trump’s unprecedented move to subvert the privilege of budget allocation and approval that the nation’s founding document places squarely in the hands of the legislative chambers.
Saying that there will be “little check and no balance left” if Congress allows Trump to usurp their budgeting authority, Rep. Schiff explained the difficult choice between party and country that Republican legislators now face.
“It will not be a separation of powers any more, just a separation of parties,” he said. “So this is going to be a moment of truth for my GOP colleagues.”
Democrat @RepAdamSchiff on why he said Trump’s national emergency is “unconstitutional”: “If we give away, if we surrender the power of the purse … there will be little check and no balance left. It’ll not be a separation of powers anymore, just a separation of parties” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/R1ghj3S84w
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 17, 2019
The House Intelligence Committee chairman also provided a counterbalancing argument to the assertions made by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) who drew grateful praise from President Trump by prematurely declaring that his own committee has found no direct evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, despite this week’s revelations that evidence of communications between Trump advisor Roger Stone, WikiLeaks, and Russian intelligence agents was already in the hands of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators.
Rep. Schiff expressed surprise at Burr’s conclusion given what has been already revealed by the highly redacted indictments that Mueller has filed with the courts.
“You can see evidence in plain sight on the issue of collusion, pretty compelling evidence,” Schiff said, before explaining why impeachment proceeding haven’t already begun. “Now, there’s a difference between seeing evidence of collusion and being able to prove a criminal conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt,” Schiff said.
Pointing to the guilty pleas by former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, and campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Rep. Schiff took a “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” approach to the mounting evidence of a criminal conspiracy to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential race.
“All of this is evidence of collusion,” Schiff said. “And you either have to look the other way to say it isn’t, or you have to have a different word for it, because it is a corrupt dealing with a foreign adversary during a campaign.”
Another word for it already exists.
It’s called treason.
And hopefully, Congressman Schiff will help see that the people involved in it are brought to justice one his committee completes its investigation.
Democrat @RepAdamSchiff : “You can see evidence in plain sight on the issue of collusion, pretty compelling evidence. Now, there’s a difference between seeing evidence of collusion and being able to prove a criminal conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt.” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/xOocIO31yD
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 17, 2019
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.