California Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said fellow congressional Democrats can’t charge every transgression and wrongdoing they believe President Trump has committed while in office in their articles of impeachment.
“As a former prosecutor, it’s always been my strategy in a charging decision — and an impeachment in the House is essentially a charging decision — to charge those that there is the strongest and most overwhelming evidence and not try to charge everything, even though you could charge other things,” Schiff said on “Face the Nation” Sunday. “That’s my guiding philosophy.”
The House Intelligence Committee held a series of closed-door and public hearings with current and former administration officials with information about efforts by the president and his allies to enlist the help of the Ukrainian government for political favors. Schiff’s panel then compiled a scathing report and shared its findings with the House Judiciary Committee, which is now charged with drafting articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump.
The Democratic-controlled committee, led by Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York, has been strategizing behind closed doors over the weekend to determine the nature and the number of articles of impeachment that they are expected to debate this week and ultimately send to the House floor for a full vote. It is unclear how many articles of impeachment Nadler’s committee will draft and whether any will include alleged wrongdoing by the president detailed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report earlier in the year.
Schiff on Sunday declined to discuss internal deliberations with Nadler and other members of the Democratic leadership in the House. But he mentioned that he believes the Judiciary Committee should focus on “issues that provide the greatest threat to the country.”
“There is overwhelming evidence that the president sought to coerce Ukraine into interfering in our election, essentially sought to cheat in our next election by getting a foreign government to weigh in,” Schiff added. “That is a very serious business, and it imperils our national security. It’s a gross abuse of his office. And the president also deeply sought to obstruct the investigation into that wrongdoing. And I think that is the gravamen of the offense here.”
The California Democrat said charging the president’s dealings with Ukraine — through articles of impeachment — “can’t wait” because they threaten the integrity of America’s elections and the country’s national security. He cited Mr. Trump’s calls for the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his family, as well as the months-long hold on a congressionally authorized military aid package to help Ukraine in its war against Russian-backed separatists that Democrats believe the White House sought to leverage to further Mr. Trump’s personal political ambitions.
Schiff said Nadler will be the one who will ultimately decide whether the articles of impeachment against the president should include information from the Mueller report. That report outlined several apparent instances in which Mr. Trump sought to undermine and thwart an investigation that he believed would doom his presidency.
Asked about his own personal deliberations, Schiff said he will wait until he sees the articles of impeachment being drafted by the Judiciary Committee before deciding whether to vote for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.
“I’ll make my views known at that time,” Schiff said. “But I will say this is precisely the kind of conduct the founders were most concerned about when they provided the remedy of impeachment. That is, that a president of the United States would abuse his power to seek foreign intervention in our affairs.”