'Republicans won't stand up for the rule of law': Rep. Adam Schiff

George Stephanopoulos interviews Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on "This Week."
8:10 | 07/12/20

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Transcript for 'Republicans won't stand up for the rule of law': Rep. Adam Schiff
unfairly. Roger stone was brought into this witch hunt, this whole political witch hunt, and the Mueller scam -- it's a scam -- because it's been proven false and he was treated very unfairly, just like general Flynn is treated unfairly, just -- they were all treated unfairly, what I did, I'll tell you this, people are extremely happy because in this country they want justice. And Roger stone was not treated properly, so I'm very happy with what I did. President trump on commuting Roger stone's sentence, the president's late Friday move to reward his longtime friend is drawing fire including the first public statement from Robert Mueller in more than a year. He said, quote, when a subject lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government's efforts to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable, because his sentence has been commuted he will not go to prison but his conviction stands. We're joined by the chairman of the house intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, thank you for joining us this morning. Stone was convicted in part for false statements he made to your committee, what's your response to the president? I think anyone who cares about the rule of law in this country is nauseated by the fact that the president has commuted the sentence of someone who willfully lied to congress, covered up for the president, intimidated witnesses, obstructed the investigation. It shouldn't matter whether you're a Democrat or Republican. This should be offensive to you if you care about the rule of law and care about justice. Let's remember, George, Roger stone was the intermediary, he was the link between Donald Trump and trump campaign and Russian intelligence, the same Russian intelligence unit that hacked Donald Trump's opponents. Donald Trump was desperate to get his hands on these e-mails, he urged the Russians to hack Hillary's e-mails. He touted them when they did. Over a hundred times on the campaign trail. They thought they were central to his victory, his effort to get and use foreign assistance is what Roger stone had information on and he lied to cover up and protect the president, and the president through this commutation is basically saying, if you lie for me, if you cover up for me, if you have my back, then I'll make sure that you get a get out of jail free card. Other Americans, different standard. Friends of the president, they get off scot-free. What, if anything, though can you do about it, I know speaker Pelosi said that the house will move legislation that the person can't shield the president. Wouldn't it likely be found unconstitutional if it became law? Well, there are things that we can do to discourage the abuse of the pardon power, the commutation power, I introduced a bill months ago that says, if the president pardons someone in which they're a witness, subject, target, the files on that case will be provided to congress, so congress can evaluate whether this is another act of obstruction of justice that we can do. You point out a very important problem which is responsible for the commutation of this sentence and is that Republicans won't stand up for the rule of law, won't stand up for the Independence of the justice department. It shouldn't matter that this was a republican-led investigation that Roger stone lied to, the committee was then chaired by a Republican and here you have no more than a couple of Republicans willing to say a single word of someone who came before congress and lied to them. Obstructed them. And why? Because he did it to cover for a president of their party. This is the distinction between now and watergate. The Republicans at that time would not have stood for this. Nixon understood that. Donald Trump understands that he has these Republicans cowed, they won't stand up to him, they won't defend the rule of law and that means that we'll have to wait until next year to pass this legislation to discourage further abuses of the commutation power. Of course the other possible remedy is impeachment. A quote from James Madison, talking about the president's pardon power. He said that, if the president can be connected in any suspicious manner with any person there be grounds to believe that he will shelter him the house of representatives can impeach him. They can remove him if found guilty. Is this an impeachable offense? It's an impeachable offense if you abuse the pardon power to protect yourself from criminal liability. But again, George, if the Republicans won't even say a word of course they're not going to vote to impeach and convict. We already presented a case with overwhelming evidence and they refused to convict then, and during that impeachment we warned that if they left him in office that the damage he could do between now and election day could be severe. Here are now, 130,000 Americans dead, we had no idea just how bad the damage would be. But nonetheless we knew the damage would be grave. Your colleague hakeem Jeffries said that president and Roger stone can still be indicted, should Joe Biden ask his attorney general take that step if he indeed does become president? You know, that will be a decision that I think Joe Biden will have to make, considering the circumstances in the country at that time. I don't envy the difficulty of that decision. But you know, for example, if you look at the campaign fraud scheme that the president was involved the southern district of New York, U.S. Attorney's office indicted Michael Cohen for being directed and coordinated to commit this fraud scheme. Well, the individual number one who did the directing and coordinating was the president of the United States. The justice department thought that Michael Cohen should go to jail for that, what's the argument not to have the person who did the directing and coordinating go to jail? Finally, I want to talk about this covid crisis. You're from Los Angeles, one of hot spots right now in the country. And there's more talk about a possible another stimulus package coming in the house later this month, are you confident you can get something done before the house goes on recess and what more do we need to do to get this virus under control? We have to get something done. We need to ramp up our testing and tracing, the ability to to treat those who get sick and isolate those who carry the virus. We have to help Americans who are hanging on by a thin financial thread. That's likely to get worse. Unemployment compensations in terms of the federal extended benefits, are going to be cut off, the aid to businesses, small businesses, may be cut off, if the Republicans still refuse to act. Will they continue in the face of such misery and disease and death, refuse to act? I certainly hope not. I they'll be compelled to, but I think they'll do far too little given the economic circumstances and given this dire health threat to the American people. I'm desperately concerned as you hear from the health experts. I'm concerned that the Republicans in congress will not rise to the challenge of this virus and we'll have more economic suffering and more death than necessary. It didn't have to be this way. But both the combination of the president's incompetent response and the Republican unwillingness to step up to the plate and provide the resources for an answer to that virus has left us where we are. Chairman Schiff, thank you for your time this morning.

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

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