House Intelligence Chairman: "I don’t think this country could survive another four years" of Trump

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said the United States may not survive if Trump is reelected in 2020

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published May 12, 2019 2:00PM (EDT)

Adam Schiff (AP/Alex Brandon)
Adam Schiff (AP/Alex Brandon)

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that he worries American democracy won't be able to survive four more years of President Donald Trump's divisive behavior and lack of respect for the rule of law.

After being asked by Stephanopoulos on the program "This Week" whether he agrees with a recent comment by Trump that Democratic investigations will help the president win reelection in 2020, Schiff argued that the exact opposite was true.

"That’s not going to happen and I don’t think this country could survive another four years of a president like this who gets up every day trying to find new and inventive ways to divide us," Schiff told Stephanopoulos. "He doesn’t seem to understand that a fundamental aspect of his job is to try to make us a more perfect union. But that’s not at all where he’s coming from."

He added, "And he’s going to be defeated. He has to be defeated because I don’t know how much more our democratic institutions can take of this kind of attack on the rule of law."

Schiff also argued that Trump's obstruction of the congressional investigation is categorically different from President Barack Obama's opposition to congressional investigative efforts during his presidency.

"There are categorical differences," Schiff explained. "So, first, the Obama administration made dozens of witnesses available to the Congress, provided numerous thousands of documents, as you just heard, to the Republicans in Congress. And yes, it made specific claims of privilege. But here, the Trump administration has decided to say a blanket no; no to any kind of oversight whatsoever, no witnesses, no documents, no nothing, claiming executive privilege over things that it knows there is no basis for. There’s no executive privilege over the hundreds of thousands of documents regarding events that took place before Donald Trump was president."

He added, "You can’t have a privilege – an executive privilege when you’re not the executive. So, they know that vast categories are inapplicable to the privilege here. So they’re just stonewalling. They want to draw this out as long as possible and we’re going to fight it, we are fighting it and we have to because if this president can show that Congress cannot enforce its oversight responsibility, something Barack Obama never tried to do and — and he had respect for the separation of powers, it will mean not only that we can't conduct this investigation but that no future president can be held accountable for corruption or malfeasance."

Although Schiff did not say with certainty whether he felt Trump should be impeached, he did proclaim confident that special counsel Robert Mueller would ultimately testify before Congress.

"I am convinced it’s going to happen. That is inexorable. The American people have every right to hear what the man who did the investigation has to say and we now know we certainly can't rely on the attorney general who misrepresented his conclusions. So he is going to testify," Schiff told Stephanopoulos.

Schiff has been outspoken in his political criticisms of Trump, such as last month when he scoffed at the president's attempts to label Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota as anti-Semitic.

"I hate to even dignify those remarks, but look, it’s not the Democratic Party that believes that there are good people on both sides of a Nazi rally. There’s just one party and one party leader who believes that, and that’s Donald Trump," Schiff said.

He added, "If there’s anything that is likely to cement the relationship between the Democratic Party and the Jewish community, it’s the presidency of Donald Trump. The lack of character and values that are certainly inconsistent with Jewish values, I think, are only consolidating support in the Jewish community and I think the president needs to look inward when it comes to the rise of anti-Semitism in the country and his own actions and his own words and how that may fuel some of the rise in hate that we see."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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