WASHINGTON (AP) – Almost a year out of the White House, Donald Trump continues to tour the Republican Party, garnering attention and influence as he considers another presidential bid.
And still around Trump, Representative Adam Schiff.
Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee who rose to prominence nationally for probing Russian election interference and leading Trump’s first impeachment, said there was nothing short of democracy in game with the continued presence of the former president on the national political scene.
As a key member of the House Special Committee on the Jan.6 Uprising on Capitol Hill, the congressman who Trump mercilessly mocks with mocking nicknames turns his attention to Trump’s role in this murderous riot.
âWe want to show the country how January 6 came about – and not just the mechanics of that day, in terms of participation of white nationalist groupsâ¦ but rather how this big lie about our elections caused thousands to attack. their own government, âSchiff said in an interview on C-SPAN’s Book TV, which airs a week starting Sunday.
“What did the president know of who was coming to this gathering and what did he do when he found out?” Schiff asks. “Why did it take so long? And so there are a lot of important unanswered questions.
As the committee ramps up its investigation, it’s a familiar role but also a new chapter for Schiff, the federal prosecutor-turned-congressman whose life’s work is now largely defined by the man he calls a “Clear and present danger” for American democracy.
Last winter Trump was impeached a second time on charges of incitement to riot. But House prosecutors, like Schiff in the first election interference-focused trial involving the Trump campaign and Ukraine, failed to secure a Senate conviction.
This time around, the California Democrat said the select committee expects to uncover new information about Trump’s involvement that day, as he encouraged the crowd of his supporters to come to Capitol Hill and “stand by. fight like hell âto reverse his electoral defeat to Joe Biden. Deaths in the riot and its aftermath included Trump supporter Ashli ââBabbitt, who was shot and killed by police, and several officers who later committed suicide after the most serious attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812.
In a heavy-titled new book, “Midnight in Washington, How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could,” Schiff writes his personal and compelling account of that day: Getting Ready to Put on a Gas Mask in the Bedroom of the House, being forced to flee when the crowd approaches.
Colleagues in the Republic have warned him that he must stay out of sight because of his recognizable role as a critic of Trump. But during the hours that followed, as the House returned to the Electoral College’s vote tally for Biden, Schiff came to see Republican lawmakers, in “suits and ties,” as an institutional threat as serious as the rioters who protested. pushed their way into the building in an effort to overturn the election.
The special committee delves into not only Trump, but also potentially Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy of California and the president’s other allies in Congress who perpetuate the claim that the election was somehow rigged or illegitimate – although every state has certified its results as correct. , and dozens of legal challenges have come to nothing.
âI’m trying to convey the fragility of our democracy – something we’ve always taken for granted – but something that over the past four years has been dismantled piece by piece,â Schiff said of his book.
He expects the committee to provide “the final report,” just as the 9/11 commission produced a comprehensive review of the 2001 terrorist attack on the United States.
Trump mocks the committee, refusing to participate. Two prominent GOP lawmakers, Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois were essentially disowned by their party for joining the panel and its investigation.
Trump says Democrats are “drunk on power” and urges some of his former employees and administration officials not to comply with subpoenas or other requests for testimony. He bases this position on claims of executive privilege even though he is no longer in office. This week, the panel announced it would vote in favor of contempting former Trump adviser Steve Bannon for defying a subpoena.
“The radical left Democrats have tried the witch hunt in RUSSIA, they have tried bogus dismissals, and now they are again trying to use Congress to persecute their political opponents,” Trump said in a recent statement.
Schiff tweeted this week that the panel is “not messing around” and expects Biden’s Justice Department to pursue criminal contempt cases to force compliance.
The goal, says Schiff, is for the committee’s end product to be a “historic record as a way to expose the American people to what happened in this tragedy, but also as a way to make recommendations on how how we move forward as a country, how do we protect our democracy.
With Trump settled into his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, weighing another race for the White House and visiting the first voting states to rally large crowds, Washington is waiting and pondering its next move.
Schiff acknowledges that he and other Democrats were ill-prepared for Trump’s popularity and have struggled for the past five years to mount a convincing counter-argument to convince voters who left the party for Trump.
More immediately, Democrats face the prospect of a Republican takeover of the House in next fall’s midterm election, elevating McCarthy to replace President Nancy Pelosi.
“If Kevin McCarthy were to become a speaker one day, Donald Trump would essentially be a speaker,” warns Schiff.
He and his fellow Democrats have assembled a set of post-Watergate-style laws aimed at solidifying the country’s civic infrastructure and tightening ethical standards for the post-Trump era. But in the face of Republican opposition, she is unlikely to pass the Senate.
Schiff positions the American experience alongside a âbroader global struggle currently underway between autocracy and democracy. People all over the world saw us as a beacon. Now they see people climbing outside our Capitol, beating police, âhe said.
âSo many things that we thought could never happen in this country have already happened. “
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