Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee, gave a press conference today in which he expressed his concern that committee chairman Devin Nunes is not doing his job properly. This announcement was about as surprising as the news that sun will rise in the east tomorrow but is being greeted by some as a stunning indictment of Nunes.
“First, I think it gravely concerning to the members of the committee that the chairman would receive information that is pertinent to the scope of our investigation and instead of sharing that information with the committee would share that information with the White House,” Schiff said. He continued, “The committee has still not received the intercepts or other information that the chairman is referring to and therefore it is really impossible for us to evaluate any of the merits of what the chairman has said.
“But I can say this: The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House because he cannot do both.”
For some reason, reporters are behaving as if this partisan accusation coming from Rep. Schiff is a surprise rather than par for the course. Here’s CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asking Schiff if it’s time for Rep. Nunes to step down as chairman:
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) March 22, 2017
In his press conference earlier today, Rep. Nunes made it clear there was no evidence of anything illegal or of any connection to Russia or the current investigation. “None of this surveillance was related to Russia, or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team,” he said. And yet, Rep. Schiff is behaving as if this might be relevant to the committee’s investigation into Russian meddling and contacts with the Trump campaign. How does he know it’s connected, despite Rep. Nunes’ claim to the contrary, if he hasn’t even seen the information?
The bottom line here is that Rep. Schiff is behaving like a partisan. He has been criticizing Chairman Nunes for weeks, even as he pretends his only concern is ensuring a non-partisan investigation. On that front, Schiff really upped the ante on the Russia collusion claim today. We’ll see if, unlike Sen. Coons, he can actually back up this claim.