Transcript for Bolton 'has very relevant information and we want him to testify': Rep. Adam Schiff
Joining me now exclusively is congressman Adam Schiff, the chair of the house intelligence committee who is leading the impeachment inquiinquiry. Welcome, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. I do want to start with this raid on baghdadi that left baghdadi killed. You were not told. Was Nancy Pelosi given any heads up about this? My understanding is that she wasn't. A couple things. First of all, good riddance. This was a blood thirsty killer to the degree that he retained operational control of ISIS. It's an operational success. It's a symbolic victory. He had the blood of thousands and thousands of people on his hands including many Americans and American journalists. So this is a great day, a ruthless killer has been brought to justice. It's not the end of ISIS by any means and we've had some recent setbacks with the release of over 100 ISIS fighters. That struggle is going to have to go on, made more difficult by the fact that we have betrayed the kurds and withdrawn our forces from parts of Syria but nonetheless an important victory against this brutal killer. In terms of notifying the gang of eight, that wasn't done. Look, the reason to notify the gang of eight is frankly more important when things go wrong. If -- the president said it was dangerous flying in. The Russians could have shot down American planes -- The gang of eight was told about the bin laden raid? I wasn't part of the gang of eight at the time but that's my understanding. Had this escalated, had something gone wrong, had we gotten into a fire fight with the Russians, the administration has to be able to say, we informed congress we were going in, they were aware of the ifks. We at least gave them the chance to provide feedback. That wasn't done here. I think that's a mistake but let's not lose sight of the fact that it was a success and a ruthless killer has been taken off the battlefield. Still concerned about the troops coming out? Absolutely. I think it's a disastrous mistake to betray the kurds this way. I think it improves the Russian position in the Middle East, something they desperately want. I vehemently disagree with what the president said that the Russians love having us there. Not sure what he was thanking the Russians for. More than that, the idea that we would pull our forces away from this vital ally, the kurds, that we've fought with, died by our side, and now we're sending our troops back in to protect oil? We'll betray an ally but go back in to protect the oil, that sickens me frankly. I think, as you can see from so many of the troops that have had to pull out and abandon their allies, they're sickened by the president's decision as well. I want to move on to these investigations and I want to start with a new one, the justice department has shifted its review of the 2016 Russia probe to what they call a criminal investigation. You said that you have had, quote, profound concerns that the move means that attorney general William Barr's justice department has become a vehicle for president trump's political revenge. What makes you draw that conclusion? If these reports are correct and bill Barr's justice department is doing a criminal investigation of people who properly looked into Russian interference in our election, in the FBI or intelligence agencies, it means that bill Barr on the president's behalf is weaponizing the justice department to go after the president's enemies. I served for years, I don't anymore, on a commission that would help emerging democracies and we would inform the partial therriens that when you win an election you don't seek to prosecute the losing side but this is what bill Barr is seeking to do. He is demonstrating once again that he is merely a tool of the president, the president's hand, not the representative of the American people. But the prosecutor running the investigation, John Durham, is a very well respected prosecutor. Why not just let the investigation run its course? First of all, we have an inspector general who is an independent body who is doing an investigation that's near conclusion. So there's been no public explanation for why this needs to be a criminal probe. You can assign -- Would you accept the results of such an investigation? I was going to say you can assign good people to do an illegitimate investigation. You can assign good people to investigate the president's political rivals. It doesn't mean that the investigation is any less tainted. This is tainted because of the motivation which is a political one to serve the president's political interests. Okay, you have no evidence of that yet whatsoever, however? Well, the evidence I think is pretty clear. The president has been calling for the justice department to investigate Comey, to investigate clapper, to investigate anyone who stood in his way and now what is bill Barr doing, he's doing an investigation of -- a criminal investigation of some of the people responsible for this probe. So you can I think connect one dot to another. Let's move on to your investigation and impeachment. Senator Lindsey graham introduced a resolution condemning the impeachment process and he called for the house to hold a vote to formalize the inquiry, allowing president trump to call witnesses, give subpoena power to house Republicans. Let's listen to what he said. All I'm asking is give Donald Trump the same rights as Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton had when it comes to impeachment. Any impeachment vote based on this process to me is illegitimate, it's unconstitutional and should be dismissed in the senate without a trial. And why not move forward with that request at this point? Well, this is poor timing for Lindsey graham because on the heels of his saying he's going to introduce this bill, the court just ruled that his arguments essentially have no merit, that the house of representatives can proceed as it has with an impeachment inquiry that's been authorized by our leadership that no vote on the house floor is necessary. There's no merit to Lindsey graham's argument. I think what we're seeing really is Lindsey graham trying to respond to the devastating testimony that's come out from ambassador Taylor and others, from Mick Mulvaney's own admission that not only was this white house meeting that Ukraine sought with the president withheld but the military aid itself was withheld as a way of pressuring Ukraine to do these two political investigations that the president believed would help his re-election campaign. Lindsey graham doesn't want to talk about that. Mitch Mcconnell doesn't want to talk about it. There's precedence with Clinton and with Nixon. On this is precedence, it's important to realize and Lindsey doesn't want to talk about this either, in both of those prior impeachments, they were lengthy closed door investigations, fact-finding before grand juries in both Nixon and in Clinton that we didn't have here. Why? Because bill Barr wouldn't authorize a criminal investigation into the president's misconduct, vis-a-vis Ukraine. That's why we're having to do this. Two quick things. What's the timeline here? When do you expect public hearings and is John Bolton important fo this and will he testify? We will be doing public hearings and I think we'll do them soon? Sooner than a couple weeks, before Thanksgiving? I don't want to give precise timing because in part we're struggling with the white house's continuing efforts to obstruct our investigation, to obstruct witnesses coming in. My guess is they're going to fight us having John Bolton in for example. John Bolton is a very important witness. We already know from the testimony of others that this is someone who was concerned that people in the state department, ambassador sondland, Mulvaney, were cooking up a drug deal and by that he meant a corrupt deal involving withholding aid for these political purposes. He has very relevant information and we want him to testify. Thank you for joining us. We appreciate your time.
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