May 12, 2019

Many of us have said for months that our country may barely survive four years of the Donald Trump regime. There is no way we could survive another four. He spends every single day tearing apart our country, inspiring white nationalists mass shooters, serving as the leader for solely his base, cozying up to autocrats, dictators and murderers and has fractured our relationships with allies worldwide.

Adam Schiff joined George Stephanopoulos on This Week to talk about the prospect of four more years and why it is so critical that we decisively vote Trump out in 2020.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we begin this week with one of the Democratic chairmen leading an investigation, Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee. Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us this morning. You heard the president right there, he says you all are going to elect him in 2020.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA): 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. 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.

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.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He has made it pretty clear he’s not going to cooperate with most of the congressional investigations going on right now. And during the Obama administration, he declared executive privilege this week on Attorney General Barr’s testimony. And during the Obama administration, when the House GOP held the attorney general in contempt, Eric Holder, in contempt for failing to turn over documents from the Fast and Furious program, you called it partisan abuse. Here’s what you said.


SCHIFF: The Justice Department after providing 8,000 documents and extensive testimony is now being required to turn over privileged materials. And like all administrations before it, it has reluctantly used executive privilege to respectfully refuse to provide materials it cannot provide.


STEPHANOPOULOS: This Department of Justice is making exactly the same argument right now. They’re saying they’ve turned over almost the entire Mueller report unredacted, the attorney general, William Barr, has testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. They’re saying they’re prevented by law from giving over this grand jury information so what’s the difference here?

SCHIFF: There are categorical differences. 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.

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.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But -- but that's the big question, isn’t it? What can you do about it. I know that you've talked about under the Congress' power for contempt that you can maybe fine officials. You're not going to get a -- get a U.S. attorney to prosecute the attorney general after you hold him or any other official in contempt, so what can you do? How can you be effective?

SCHIFF: Well, we're going to have to enforce so much of this in court, and we're seeing signs already and I think this is positive that the courts understand the urgency here. And the first case to get to the court involving the accountants, the House Oversight Committee, the judge has said essentially we're going to expedite the schedule, I'm going to give you a quick judgment on it. And look, we are going to have to consider other remedies like contempt, where if the courts take too long we use our own judicial process within the Congress.

And look, I think if you fine someone $25,000 a day to their person until they comply, it gets their attention.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If you can collect.

SCHIFF: Well, if you can collect but it affects, you know, whether they’re going to be facing ultimately hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. I don't know how many are going to want to take that risk for Donald Trump. But we're are going have to use that device if necessary, we’re going to have to use the power of the purse if necessary. We're going to have to enforce our ability to do oversight.

Things are coming to a head. With Barr and Mnuchin flat out refusing to hand over documents and McGahn possibly not testifying at the request (order) of Donald Trump, who knows if Mueller will be allowed to show up? The courts are ruling on the legality of the House's request for Donald Trump's tax returns this Tuesday. It is going to explosive over the coming weeks and months. Has Trump packed the courts with enough friendly judges to give him cover? Will SCOTUS side with him or will Chief Justice Roberts rule with the liberal judges to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and our institutions are protected, even after Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch and Brett "I LOVE BEER" Kavanaugh?

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