Fresh from his fecal fracas with Donald Trump, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-28) hammered the President Sunday morning, calling him dishonest about the killing of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. He also vowed to investigate acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, as well as Trump’s own foreign business dealings.
On CNN’s “State of the Union” Schiff told guest host Dana Bash, “Look, the president is not being honest with the country about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.”
“I think, in part, he feels that, by saying that we don’t know or that the world is a dangerous place or everybody does it, he thinks it makes him look strong. It actually makes him look weak. It means that our allies don’t respect us, our enemies don’t fear us.”
Although the CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of the Washington Post columnist Trump has tried to pretend that responsibility for the murder is some kind of vast unsolvable mystery, along the lines of whether Big Foot really exists. Trump has repeatedly insisted he doesn’t know one way or the other whether the Prince was responsible and insisted the CIA reached no such determination.
Bash also asked Schiff, who is slated to become chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, about his recent comments to the Washington Post suggesting that Trump’s business concerns overseas are influencing how he treats Saudi Arabia.
“I don’t know whether this is simply an affinity that he has for autocrats—he seems to choose them repeatedly over his own intelligence agencies—or whether there’s a financial motivation, that is, his own personal finances,” replied Schiff, a 1985 Harvard Law School graduate who generally avoids the vitriol and hyperbole of most Trump critics, opting instead for legalistic formulations.
“We know, of course, he has openly bragged about how many millions he makes from Saudi Arabia,” Schiff continued. “Is his personal financial interests driving U.S. policy in the Gulf? Is it driving us policy vis-a-vis the Russians? We don’t know, but it would be irresponsible not to find out.”
“We know, of course, he has openly bragged about how many millions he makes from Saudi Arabia. Is his personal financial interests driving U.S. policy in the Gulf? Is it driving us policy vis-a-vis the Russians? We don’t know, but it would be irresponsible not to find out.”
Bash asked Schiff how he would ascertain the truth.
“Well, this will not be the work alone of the Intelligence Committee,” he replied. “It will be our responsibility to make sure that we’re getting good intelligence on, not just the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, but also Saudi policy vis-a-vis Qatar, in Yemen, and that the Congress is informed, that we can make good policy decisions, that we can truth-tell if the president is misrepresenting the matter to the American people, so that we’re — we have a foreign policy driven that is by American interests, not by some interest of the president.”
“So, that will be our responsibility. I think others will also have the responsibility of looking at, are there financial entanglements with the Gulf? Are there financial inducements that the president has not to want to cross the Saudis? That cannot be allowed to drive U.S. policy.”
Schiff has said Whitaker was chosen to derail the work of Independent Counsel Robert Mueller. On Sunday, he promised to drag the Iowa lawyer before Congress.
“The American people need to know whether this president is obstructing justice, whether he has obstructed justice in the past, whether his appointment of Whitaker was designed to obstruct justice, whether it’s having the effect of obstructing justice, whether there was some kind of a discussion, deal, bargain, arrangement, understanding.”
“Well, we are going to bring Whitaker before the Congress,” Schiff continued,”assuming he’s still in his position at the time when Democrats take over. We may bring him in whether he’s in that position or not to find out the answers to these questions.
Trump normally responds very quickly on Twitter when Schiff criticizes him on the Sunday news shows. Last week, just hours after the congressman called Whitaker’s appointment “unconstitutional” the President misspelled his name as“Adam Schitt.”
But as of Monday morning the President has not replied to Schiff’s televised broadsides.