The following is a transcript of an interview with Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California that aired Sunday, June 5, 2022, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re gonna go now to California Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. He joins us from Los Angeles. Mr. Chairman, good morning to you.
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You wear a lot of hats, but I want to ask you about the January 6 committee that you serve on. The Justice Department, as you know, on Friday decided not to prosecute the former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, or social media director, Dan Scavino, for refusing to cooperate with your committee. We know the committee said that was puzzling. Is it your understanding that- that these men are immune from all prosecution?
REP. SCHIFF: No, they’re not. And it is very puzzling why these two witnesses would be treated differently than the two that the Justice Department is prosecuting. There is no absolute immunity. These witnesses have very relevant testimony to offer in terms of what went into the violence of January 6, the propagation of the big lie, and the idea that witnesses could simply fail to show up. And when the statute requires the Justice Department to present those cases to the grand jury, they don’t, is deeply troubling. We hope to get more insight from the Justice Department, but it’s a- I think, a grave disappointment, and could impede our work if other witnesses think they can, likewise, refuse to show up with impunity.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it because these two men had such close proximity to President Trump? Is the executive privilege argument actually applying here?
REP. SCHIFF: That- that shouldn’t be the explanation here because of course there are great many things these witnesses can testify with no even plausible claim of executive privilege. They were both involved in campaign matters. They both have documents that they could offer. None of this is protected by privilege and the idea that you can simply refuse to show up rather than show up and say as to this question, I’m going to exert a privilege, that just invites others to be in contempt of Congress or be in contempt of judges around the country, in other courtrooms, and I think it’s a very dangerous precedent to set.
MARGARET BRENNAN: New York Times was first to report, CBS has confirmed, that Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, actually warned the Secret Service and the lead agent protecting the vice president the day before January 6 that he thought the president would turn on the vice president and that it would pose a direct security risk. We know Mr. Short plans to testify himself before your committee. Is that sufficient? Do you need to hear from the Vice President?
REP. SCHIFF: Margaret, we’re not commenting on specific witnesses so I can’t confirm or deny who will appear before us. I can say that certainly one of the themes that we will be fleshing out is the- the fact that in advance of the 6th, that there was an understanding of the propensity for violence that day, of the participation of white nationalist groups, of the effect that the continued propagation of this big lie to rile up the country and rile up the president’s base was likely to lead to violence. So you will see that theme among the narratives that will be exhibited during these hearings. But as to a particular witness, I really can’t comment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But if you don’t deliver a bombshell on Thursday, don’t you run the risk of losing the public’s 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, what led to that violent attack on the 6th? The American people, I think, know a great deal already. They’ve seen a number of bombshells already. There’s a great deal they haven’t seen. But perhaps most important is the public hasn’t seen it woven together, how one thing led to another, how one line of effort to overturn the election led to another and ultimately led to terrible violence, the first non peaceful transfer of power in our history. So we want to tell that comprehensive narrative, and we’re aiming at people and audience, frankly, that still has an open mind about these facts. We want to counter the continuing propagation of big lies. And that’s- that’s what our goal is.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about inflation, which is a problem throughout the country. The San Francisco Fed said that the American Rescue Plan contributed about three percentage points to inflation. It’s not the primary driver, but a contributor to it. In hindsight, do you think Democrats should have structured that $2 trillion package differently? Should it have been smaller?
REP. SCHIFF: No, I don’t think so. And of course, there have been other studies that have reached the- the opposite conclusion that it had an even more minimal impact on inflation. What I do think is the cause–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –It’s a non-political group, you know that.
REP. SCHIFF: Well, no, I understand that. But again, there are studies that show that it had a negligible impact on inflation as well that are also very credible. I think the- the reality is though, and this- this I think is borne out by all the evidence, is there was a global inflationary pressure, global problem with supply chains. Our economy, in fact grew so fast the in United States that that problem is particularly acute, because the demand when we emerged, you know, so quickly from the pandemic, and grew so many jobs, the- the disparity between that demand, and the supply was so pronounced this to lead to this inflation. But people are suffering from it. We’ve got to attack it in every way we can. I think, sadly, the Republicans are getting in our way, because they would rather have the issue of inflation, then really do something about it to help the country and this is what we’re confronting in Congress, and what the administration is battling against.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the administration seems to also be making some foreign policy decisions that keep inflation in mind as well. We know the president is preparing to travel to Saudi Arabia this summer. And he’ll meet with the royal family, including potentially Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince, who U.S. Intelligence said issued that order to kill or capture a US-based writer named Jamal Khashoggi. This is what you said in February of 2021.
REP. SCHIFF ON MSNBC IN FEBRUARY 2021: I think he should be shunned. I think he should be- I don’t think the president should talk with 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: In my view, no. I wouldn’t go. I wouldn’t shake his hand. This is someone who butchered an American resident, cut him up into pieces and in the most terrible and premeditated way. And until Saudi Arabia makes a radical change in terms of human rights, I wouldn’t want anything to do with him. Now, I understand the degree to which Saudi Arabia controls oil prices. I think that’s a compelling argument for us to wean ourselves off of reliance on foreign oil and on oil more globally, so we don’t have despots and murderers calling the shots. But no, I wouldn’t go and- and If I had to go to the country for some other reason, I wouldn’t meet with the Crown Prince, I think he should be shunned.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So there is no way to justify a trip like this, if it is an attempt to get Saudi Arabia to put more oil on the market and lower gas prices?
REP. SCHIFF: Well, in my view, we should make every effort to low- lower oil prices, but going hand-in-hand to someone who’s murdered American resident would not be on my list. And I would want to see Saudi Arabia, lower their oil prices- or increase their production rather. I’d want to see them make changes in their human rights record. I want to see them hold people accountable, that were involved in that murder, and in the torture of other detainees before I would extend 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.