House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on Wednesday said it doesn’t matter whether the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia or President Trump’s attempts to obstruct special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation amounted to crimes. To Schiff, they amounted to something worse: “Disloyalty to country.”
“Those are strong words,” Schiff said in his opening statement before Mueller’s testimony to the committee. “But how else are we to describe a presidential campaign which did not inform the authorities of a foreign offer of dirt on their opponent, which did not publicly shun it, or turn it away, but which instead invited it, encouraged it and made full use of it?
“That disloyalty may not have been criminal,” Schiff continued. “But disloyalty to country violates the very obligation of citizenship, our devotion to a core principle on which our nation was founded, that we, the people, not some foreign power that wishes us ill, we decide, who shall govern, us.”
Schiff said Trump and his campaign’s leadership were driven by “money,” “greed” and “corruption,” and that Trump’s goal in running for president was not to win the election but to make money by building a “gleaming” Trump Tower in Moscow.
“Your investigation determined that the Trump campaign — including Trump himself — knew that a foreign power was intervening in our election and welcomed it, built Russian meddling into their strategy, and used it,” Schiff said.
According to Schiff, the Mueller report also showed Trump’s “lies” at every turn, most notably “to obstruct an investigation into the most serious attack on our democracy by a foreign power in our history.”
“That is where your report ends, Mr. Mueller, with a scheme to cover up, obstruct and deceive every bit as systematic and pervasive as the Russian disinformation campaign itself, but far more pernicious since this rot came from within,” the chairman said.
Schiff noted that the lies about the Mueller report have continued since its completion, specifically Trump’s claims that it found “no collusion” and “no obstruction.” In his report, Mueller said he did not find enough evidence to charge Trump campaign officials with criminal conspiracy, and that a long-standing Department of Justice opinion prevented him from considering whether to charge Trump with obstruction of justice.
“But worst of all, worse than all the lies and the greed, is the disloyalty to country, for that too continues,” Schiff said. “When asked, ‘If the Russians intervene again, will you take their help, Mr. President?’ ‘Why not?’ was the essence of his answer. ‘Everyone does it.’ No, Mr. President, they don’t.”
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, used his opening statement to publicize Republican talking points about the origins of the investigation.
Earlier, in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Mueller said he would not comment on the opening of the Russia probe because it came months before he was appointed special counsel, and is the subject of an ongoing Department of Justice investigation — a probe launched by Attorney General William Barr at Trump’s request.