Top House Intel Dem on Khashoggi murder: 'Our friends don't murder journalists'

Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, joins "This Week" to discuss the latest developments surrounding Jamal Khashoggi's death and the California wildfires.
8:33 | 11/18/18

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Transcript for Top House Intel Dem on Khashoggi murder: 'Our friends don't murder journalists'
Let's bring in congressman Adam Schiff of California, the incoming chair of the house intelligence committee. Thanks for joining us this morning. I want to ask you about those fires as well. Some are very near your district. You saw the president there yesterday. Are you satisfied with his response? Listen, I'm glad he's there. I'm glad he's offering federal funds. That's what he should do. That's what a president is expected to do. I think all californians were upset with the statements he made in the beginning of the week when people were facing utter devastation. We need to focus on putting these fires out. We need to protect ourselves. All too often when the fires are out and rains are coming mudslides follow and other tragedy follows. We need to get through this period. Our hearts are going out to those affected. We're so grateful for the responders out there. The president criticized California's forest management I think that's one of the things you were talking about there, as a reason for the fires. Yesterday saying officials need to look to Finland as an example. Listen to what he said from the site of the fire. Take care of the floors, the floors of the forest. It's very important. You look at other countries where they do it differently and it's a whole different story. I was with the president of Finland. He said we have a much different -- we're a forest nation. He called it a forest nation. They spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things. They don't have any problem. Does that make sense to you? What do you think of that answer? It doesn't make sense to me. The reality is no single fire has the same cause. Every fire is going to be different. The fire in malibu is different than the camp fire. Forest management wasn't going to solve the problem in malibu. The reality is we're always going to have wildfires in California. With climate change they're going to be worse. We need to take steps to reduce their frequency and the severity. Forest management is one piece of it. There's lots of other pieces. The president needs to listen to the experts because clearly he isn't one of them. Thanks for that. I want to turn to khashoggi. Assassinated. We heard about the "Washington post" report with the CIA concluding with high confidence that the Saudi high prince ordered the killing. You were supposed to receive a briefing on the case. What can you tell us about it? I can't discuss the briefing. I can tell you, at least my opinion and given how we know the Saudi government operates and the crown prince's essential role in that, it's difficult for me to perceive of a murder of a prominent journalist and critic being carried out without the crown prince's knowledge. It's testing the proposition that the enemy of our enemy is our friend. Iran is an enemy. Saudi Arabia is important in pushing back against Iran. That doesn't make Saudi Arabia our friend. Our friends don't murder journalists. I think -- It doesn't sound like from what I've seen that there is a smoking gun there. How do you convince a president to just hours after this report was out with the CIA who said wait, we're not finished with this and said he'll do something Tuesday. What do you expect on Tuesday and the issue of the smoking gun? The president needs to listen to what our intelligence community has to say, what our professionals' bes is. It's important this administration not allow itself to become a part of any Saudi cover up. Any cover up generally, any cover up of the count prince's involvement. The Saudis have already undermined there position in the world, undermined their standing. The administration needs to make sure it doesn't undermine its own standing. We should be engaged about bartering the life of another U.S. Resident, the Turkish cleric that the Turks want to give back. We shouldn't be bartering to cover up for the Saudis. Listen to what president trump said. They give us a lot of jobs. They give us a lot of business, a lot of economic development. They are -- they have been a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development. I also take that -- you know I'm president. I have to take a lot of things into consideration. Does the president have to factor that into his decision making here? Of all of the reasons to maintain a relationship with Saudi Arabia, the number of jobs we derive from Saudi Arabia is at the bottom of the list. They're an important regional player. They're important for pushing back against Iran. They have a role in the middle East peace process. They have a role in Syria as well. We need to figure out how to manage that. What this means more than anything else, it really needs to alter our relationship. On its own right we should be bringing a stop to the war in Yemen. We should also recognize we do not share the same values as Saudi Arabia. What's the danger to the U.S. If the relationship is dramatically altered? The danger to the U.S. Is if we act too precipitously and the house should fall, that would be destabilizing of the region and we don't know what would follow. There are certainly risks here. We need to figure out how to manage those risks. First and foremost we need to bring an end to the conflict in Yemen. Also we need to stop placing so much reliance on Saudi Arabia and in particular on the crown prince. Any regime that would be involved in murdering a journalist this way we should not be walking hand in hand with. I want to talk about the Mueller investigation. We heard a lot about that this week. Possibly there's a decision coming. He appointed acting attorney general Matt Whitaker, the justice department defended the move arguing it's legal under the vacancies reform act and noted that P presidents Obama and bush both appointed nonsenate confirmed officials to cabinet offices. Will Democrats still challenge that appointment? Are you concerned about him overseeing the Mueller investigation? Yes and yes. I think the appointment is unconstitutional. Constitutionally it has to be subject to confirmation. I think they lose that case when it goes to the supreme court. It's also in conflict with a more specific statute. There's a succession statute for the justice department which makes the justice department different from other agencies. Which distinguishes this from other cases that justice is rely upon. It doesn't say you can use the vacancy's act to avoid the success plan. It's a flawed appointment. The biggest flaw is he was chosen for the purpose of interfering with the Mueller investigation. He auditioned for the part by saying he could hobble the investigation. Ethically he should have nothing to do with the investigation. What will Democrats do about it? We'll expose any involvement he has in it. He needs to know if he takes any action to curb what Mr. Mueller does, we'll find out about it. We'll expose it. I would call on my colleagues right now to avoid the constitutional crisis. Take action now. Speak out against this appointment. You can imagine if a democratic president whose administration was effectively under investigation appointed someone as attorney general who expressed hostility to that investigation, talked about crippling it, the cry. They would be right. We're right to raise this. This is an attack on the rule of law. The question for my GOP colleagues is will they have the same stand behind rule of law as their GOP predecessors had concerning watergate. Thank you, congressman. Let's now turn to Roy blunt.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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