Schiff contends Republican House majority will 'be chaos' with a 'very weak leader'

The GOP could remove the California representative from his committee.

November 20, 2022, 12:19 PM

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, on Sunday said he expects the incoming Republican majority will give in to its "lowest common denominator" members by pursuing decisions like removing him from his committee assignments.

In an appearance on ABC's "This Week" Schiff was asked by co-anchor Jonathan Karl about GOP leader Kevin McCarthy's promise to kick Schiff off the House Intelligence Committee, to which Schiff responded that he thinks McCarthy will follow the lead of hardline lawmakers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.

"Well, I suspect he will do whatever Marjorie Taylor Greene wants him to do. He's a very weak leader of this conference, meaning that he will adhere to the wishes of the lowest common denominator, and if that lowest common denominator wants to remove people from committees, that's what they'll do," Schiff said.

McCarthy has said that removing lawmakers like Schiff from their committee posts was a precedent set by Democrats when they and some Republicans voted to strip Greene of her committee work as punishment for her history of inflammatory and conspiratorial statements.

McCarthy has also claimed Schiff, who sits on the special House committee investigating last year's insurrection, used his intelligence chairmanship to politicize his committee.

On "This Week," Schiff took another view.

"It's going to be chaos with Republican leadership. And, sadly, the crazy caucus has grown among the Republicans," he added, noting that some newly elected Republicans representing deep-red districts are bringing firebrand reputations similar to Greene's.

Karl also asked Schiff if he thought Attorney General Merrick Garland made the right decision by appointing a special prosecutor to oversee the Justice Department's investigations into former President Donald Trump, who just launched a third presidential campaign.

In this June 9, 2022, file photo, Rep. Adam Schiff listens during a hearing of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol, in Washington, D.C.
Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

The department is investigating both Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and his alleged mishandling of sensitive and classified government documents after leaving office. He denies wrongdoing.

"It's the right thing to do, and most particularly if you ensure that it won't cause any delay," Schiff said. "So, if the same prosecutors that have been investigating the former president and others can be moved on to the special prosecutor's team, then there's every reason to do it, no reason not to do it."

Schiff's "concern," he said, was on the urgency of the work.

"Leading up to this point ... they were very slow at the department to work up the multiple lines of effort to overturn the election. It took them a long time to get started, and the delay has already been baked in. I hope that the special prosecutor will move with alacrity," he said.

During the final weeks of the House Jan. 6 committee's work before the Republican majority takes over, Schiff said he and the other committee members were weighing what kind of criminal referral to make about Trump's actions -- "I think the evidence is there," he said -- and what response to make to Trump resisting their subpoena.

"We have very limited options," Schiff said while calling Trump "cowardly."

Schiff also lambasted Elon Musk's decision to let Trump back onto Twitter after the former president's account was suspended after the insurrection.

"It's a terrible mistake, Schiff said. "The president used that platform to incite that attack on the Capitol."

Likewise, Schiff said he disagreed with the Biden administration's decision to back a claim of legal immunity for Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in connection with the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a U.S. resident.

"We ought to put our value on life not oil, and I think this is a tragic decision," Schiff said.

As for 2024 and the next presidential race, Schiff said he was backing Joe Biden, who just turned 80, should Biden run for a second term: "I think he's extremely capable ... If he wants to continue, I'm for him."

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