Weekly Democratic Address
March 25, 2017
Hello, I’m Congressman Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Last summer, a foreign power intervened in our presidential election in an effort to influence the outcome on behalf of one of the candidates.
That power was Russia, and the candidate was Donald J. Trump, now President of the United States. This is not a story made up to discredit Mr. Trump, but the consensus conclusion of the entire U.S. intelligence community.
More ominously, the intelligence community has concluded that Vladimir Putin ordered this meddling and that he will do it again.
Congress has launched investigations into how the Russians intervened, how we must protect our democracy in the future, and whether persons affiliated with the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in this effort to undermine our democracy.
During this week’s hearing, FBI Director Comey revealed for the first time that he is conducting an investigation into whether Trump campaign personnel coordinated their efforts with the Russians, or acted as agents of a foreign power.
The FBI investigation began in July of last year, based on credible information or evidence to warrant that extraordinary step. That timing is significant.
It was in July that Paul Manafort was Trump campaign manager, that Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page travelled to Moscow, that the Trump campaign intervened to defeat a provision in the Republican party platform hostile to Russian interests in Ukraine, and most significant, it was July when Russia began weaponizing the information it had stolen in an effort to attack Hillary Clinton.
Congress should establish an independent commission that has the staff, resources and single-minded focus necessary to investigate this matter.
Most important, as the events of this week demonstrate, an independent commission will be able to conduct its work insulated from any political interference.
Now, the President believes this is an attempt to undermine his legitimacy or credibility. It is not. Only the President is capable of doing that, and regrettably, he is at great risk of doing so.
During our hearing, Director Comey also testified that there was absolutely no basis for the President’s startling accusation that his predecessor had wiretapped him in Trump tower.
This was revealed to be utter nonsense.
When a President of the United States makes claims that are proved baseless, it weakens the Presidency and undermines our security and standing in the world.
Presidential credibility, once squandered, may never be fully regained.
If the President should one day assert that North Korea has placed a nuclear weapon on a ballistic missile and action is necessary, it will be an enormous problem should that be untrue.
If it is true, it may be an even bigger problem if the President has lost the capacity to persuade our allies of the facts, let alone the American people.
Mr. President, I implore you, the country implores you, you have chosen two superb people to guide you, in General Mattis and General McMaster.
Seek their counsel. Listen to what they have to say. And cherish the trust and hope that was placed in you by virtue of your office, by never again advancing claims that you know – or should know – are simply not true.