In a fiery hearing of the House Intelligence Committee today, Republican members called on the committee's chair, Adam Schiff, to resign his chairmanship after they accused the California Democrat of promoting the "false narrative" of Trump-Russia collusion in the leadup to the release of the Mueller report -- a topic of contention that has vexed the president and his supporters for years.
"Since prior to the inauguration of President [Donald] Trump in January 2017, you have been at the center of a well-orchestrated media campaign claiming, among other things, the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government," Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said, reading from a letter signed by the nine Republican members of the committee. "The findings of the Special Counsel conclusively refute your past and present assertions and have exposed you as having abused your position to knowingly promote false information, having damaged the integrity of this Committee, and undermined faith in U.S. government institutions."
The Republicans said Schiff's actions are "incompatible" with his duties as chairman of the intelligence committee and called on him to resign the chairmanship.
Trump went even further in a tweet this morning, saying Schiff should resign from Congress.
After Conaway's remarks, Schiff launched into an aggressive defense, listing several controversial interactions between Trump-linked figures and Russia-linked figures -- from the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting to the suggestion of a "back channel" communications system with the Russians, to former national security adviser Michael Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador.
"I think it's immoral. I think it's unethical. I think it's unpatriotic. And yes, I think it's corrupt and evidence of collusion," he said. "I have always said that the question of whether this amounts to proof of conspiracy was another matter."
The contents of the full report from special counsel Robert Mueller have been tightly guarded and the attorney general, William Barr, has only released his four-page summation of the document, which is more than 300 pages.
In his summation, released on March 24, Barr said Mueller did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia.
Democrats have been unsatisfied with Barr's summary and given the attorney general a deadline to release the full report. Barr has said it could be released in weeks.
Schiff said that while Mueller was not able to establish a criminal conspiracy, he still believed there was evidence of collusion, including the publicly known interactions he had previously referenced. Schiff said he respected Mueller's conclusion on criminality, but he still wanted to see the full Mueller report, especially the parts that are expected to deal with counterintelligence concerns.
House Democratic leadership blasted their GOP colleagues for attacking Schiff.
"They’re afraid of the truth. They’re afraid of a leader who is recognized in our country for being calm, professional, patriotic," said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "I think they're just scaredy cats, they don't know what to do so they have to make an attack. They did the wrong thing, the American people know that."