House Intel Chair Adam Schiff Pushes Back On Trump's Attacks On Whistleblower
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Congress is in recess, but the impeachment inquiry into President Trump continues to move along. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff were on Capitol Hill today, where Schiff pushed back on President Trump's attacks on an unidentified whistleblower.
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ADAM SCHIFF: This is a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses. It's an incitement to violence.
MARTIN: Schiff says Congress will do everything in its power to protect the identity of the whistleblower, who has not testified before Congress yet. NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis joins us now with the latest on the impeachment inquiry.
SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey, Michel.
MARTIN: So congressional committees met today with the inspector general for the State Department, Steve Linick. What can you tell us about the meeting?
DAVIS: The meeting was requested by the IG. Linick is an independent watchdog for the State Department. He does not report up to the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. His office had contacted congressional committees a few days ago and requested a meeting on what they said was an urgent matter. It was a closed session, mostly involved staff. But one lawmaker, Democrat Jamie Raskin of Maryland, did attend. He came out and spoke to reporters. He said the meeting involved - and it was a bit of an unusual press conference. He said it involved documents that had been sent to Mike Pompeo that he characterized as involving propaganda and involving conspiracy theories. He ultimately said it does not fundamentally change the impeachment investigation. He disagreed that this was considered an urgent matter. Obviously, we're going to try and find out more about it. But in terms of this one lawmaker, he said nothing to see here.
MARTIN: Now, this comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is trying to block Congress from deposing some State Department officials. How confident is Schiff that his committee will get to hear from the people they need to hear from in this investigation?
DAVIS: He also met with reporters this morning. He's pretty clear-eyed that there's going to be some conflicts with the White House here. Things are escalating pretty quickly between Congress and the Trump administration. Pompeo confirmed today that he was one of the people on the July 25 phone call. He is facing a congressional subpoena on his own part, where they want to see more documents from the State Department. Schiff and other chairmen also put out a letter today, warning the White House that if they don't comply with another subpoena - or with document requests, they'll face another subpoena on Friday. Schiff did indicate that this was actions alone that could factor into an impeachment investigation. This is what he told reporters.
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SCHIFF: Any action like that that forces us to litigate or have to consider litigation will be considered further evidence of obstruction of justice. And, of course, that was an article of impeachment against Nixon - the obstruction of lawful functions of Congress, that is.
DAVIS: Schiff also reiterated that Congress wants to move fast here. He didn't put a timeline on it, but he said he doesn't want it to drag on for months. And he said that they would weigh that in considering whether or not to challenge this in courts or not.
MARTIN: And how are congressional Republicans responding to these latest turns in the investigation? You know, we heard from one Republican member earlier in the program. But what are you hearing?
DAVIS: I've been talking to a lot of congressional aides over the recess. Of course, a lot of lawmakers are back home with their constituents. And there is certainly a sense of relief among them that Congress is in recess right now, so they can sort of think and regroup on the strategy. You know, on the whole, Republicans remain pretty behind the president. He's still wildly popular among Republican voters. And they also say that based on what they see now, they don't believe that a lot of Republican lawmakers would vote for impeachment. They just don't believe that what is known is considered an impeachable offense.
The concern they have is that there is no real messaging strategy here. There is zero talks between Capitol Hill and the White House over how to confront the paths ahead. Multiple sources told me that they think there's going to be a real pressure test when lawmakers come back into town in about two weeks because that's when lawmakers will be faced with sort of the day-to-day responding to the communication coming out of the White House. And as you've seen, it's been almost a fuselage of attacks from the president, regarding the whistleblower, against Adam Schiff. And lawmakers, specifically Republicans, are going to have to respond to that when they're back in Congress.
MARTIN: That is NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis.
DAVIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.