The following is a transcript of an interview with Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California that aired on Face the Nation on Sunday, June 5, 2022.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re going to California Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff now. He comes to us from Los Angeles. Mr Chairman, good morning.
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re wearing a lot of hats, but I want to ask you about the January 6th committee that you’re on. As you know, the Justice Department decided on Friday not to prosecute former chief of staff Mark Meadows or social media director Dan Scavino for refusing to cooperate with your committee. We know the committee said it was confusing. Do you understand that these men are immune from any prosecution?
REP. SCHIFF: No, they are not. And it’s very puzzling why these two witnesses are treated differently than the two the Justice Department is charging. There is no absolute immunity. These witnesses have very relevant testimonies to offer as to what went into the January 6th violence, the propagation of the big lie, and the notion that witnesses simply could not show up. And when the law requires the Justice Department to bring these cases before the grand jury, they don’t do it is deeply troubling. We’re hoping to get more intelligence from the Justice Department, but it’s a huge disappointment I think, and could hamper our work if other witnesses think they could also decline to appear with impunity.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it because these two men were so close to President Trump? Does the argument of executive privilege actually apply here?
REP. SCHIFF: That- that’s not the explanation here, because of course there are a great many things that these witnesses can testify without even having a plausible claim to executive privilege. They were both involved in election campaign matters. Both have documents they could offer. None of this is protected by privilege and the idea that one can simply refuse to appear, instead of saying on that question I will exercise a privilege that only invites others to despise Congress or be in contempt of judges across the country, in other courtrooms, and I think it’s a very dangerous precedent.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The New York Times was first to report, CBS has confirmed that Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, did in fact warn the Secret Service and the senior agent protecting the vice president the day before January 6th, that he thought the President would turn back on the Vice President and that doing so would pose a direct security risk. We know that Mr. Short plans to testify before your committee. Is that enough? Need to hear the vice president?
REP. SCHIFF: Margaret, we don’t comment on specific witnesses, so I can’t confirm or deny who will appear before us. I can say that certainly one of the issues that we are going to flesh out is the fact that, before the 6th, there is an understanding of the propensity for violence that day, of the involvement of white nationalist groups, of the effect that the continued proliferation of these big lie to stir up the country and the President’s rank and file would likely lead to violence. So you will see this theme among the narratives displayed during these hearings. But I really can’t comment on one particular witness.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But if you don’t drop a bombshell on Thursday, don’t you run the risk of losing public attention here?
REP. SCHIFF: Our goal is to present the narrative of what happened in this country, how close we came to losing our democracy, which led to this violent attack on the 6th? I think the American people already know a lot. You’ve already seen some bombs. There’s a lot they haven’t seen. But perhaps most importantly, the public has failed to see how one thing led to another, how one line of efforts to overthrow the election led to another and ultimately led to horrific violence, the first non-peaceful transfer of power in our history. So we want to tell that broad narrative, and frankly we’re targeting people and viewers who are still open-minded about these facts. We want to counter the ongoing spread of big lies. And that is our goal.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about inflation, which is a problem across the country. The San Francisco Fed said the US bailout added about three percentage points to inflation. It’s not the primary driver, but a contributor to it. Looking back, do you think the Democrats should have structured this $2 trillion package differently? Should it have been smaller?
REP. SCHIFF: No, I don’t think so. And of course there were other studies that came to the opposite conclusion, that it had an even smaller impact on inflation. What I think is the cause…
MARGARET BRENNAN: – This is a non-political group, you know that.
REP. SCHIFF: Well, no, I understand that. But again, there are very credible studies showing that this also had a negligible impact on inflation. However, I think the reality is, and I think all the evidence backs this up, whether there were global inflationary pressures, a global problem with supply chains. Our economy has actually grown so fast in the United States that this issue is particularly acute because demand came out of the pandemic so quickly and so many jobs grew that — the mismatch between that demand and supply was so pronounced that it this inflation came about. But people suffer. We must attack it in any way we can. Unfortunately, I think the Republicans are standing in our way because they’d rather have inflation as a problem than actually do something about it to help the country, and that’s what we’re facing in Congress and what the administration is fighting against versus.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the government also seems to be making some foreign policy decisions that also keep an eye on inflation. We know the President is preparing to travel to Saudi Arabia this summer. And he will meet with the royal family, including possibly Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince who US intelligence said gave orders to kill or capture a US-based writer named Jamal Khashoggi. You said that in February 2021.
REP. SHIP ON MSNBC FEBRUARY 2021: I think he should be avoided. I think he should- I don’t think the President should talk to him. I don’t think the President should see him.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Should the President still go to Saudi Arabia and meet with the Crown Prince?
REP. SCHIFF: From my point of view, no. i would not go I wouldn’t shake his hand. This is someone who butchered an American resident, cut him to pieces, in the most horrific and premeditated manner. And until Saudi Arabia makes a radical shift in human rights, I wouldn’t want anything to do with him. Now I understand the extent to which Saudi Arabia controls oil prices. I think that’s a compelling argument for us to wean ourselves off dependence on foreign oil and on world oil so we don’t have despots and killers running things. But no, I wouldn’t go and- and if I had to go to the country for any other reason, I wouldn’t meet the Crown Prince, I think he should be avoided.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So there’s no justification for a trip like this when it’s trying to get Saudi Arabia to put more oil on the market and lower gas prices?
REP. SCHIFF: Well, I think we should make every effort to bring oil prices down, but going hand-in-hand with someone who murdered an American resident would not be on my list. And I would like Saudi Arabia to lower its oil prices – or rather increase its production. I would like them to make changes to their human rights record. I want them to hold people accountable for this murder and the torture of other detainees before I show that kind of dignity to Saudi Arabia or its leadership.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Chairman Schiff, thank you for your time today. We’ll be right back.