POLITICS
11/24/2019 12:00 EST | Updated 11/24/2019 12:58 EST

Adam Schiff On Impeachment: Evidence Against Trump 'Already Overwhelming'

The House Intelligence Committee chairman urged John Bolton to have the "courage" to testify in the impeachment inquiry.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sunday said impeachment investigators have already gathered “overwhelming evidence” against President Donald Trump. He said lawmakers will compile a report about their findings as they continue to probe the president’s dealings with Ukraine.

Schiff, during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” said the House won’t wait to move forward with impeachment while courts potentially take months to decide whether witnesses the White House has blocked from testifying can do so.

 “We’ve already accumulated quite overwhelming evidence that the president once again sought foreign interference in the election, conditioned official acts ― a White House meeting that Ukraine desperately wanted ― as well as $400 million of bipartisan taxpayer funding to get these political investigations that he thought would help his reelection,” Schiff said.

He continued: “There are still other witnesses, other documents that we would like to obtain, but we are not willing to go the months and months and months of rope-a-dope in the courts, which the administration would more than love for us to do.”

Later, on CNN’s “State Of The Union,” Schiff said he would welcome testimony from firsthand witnesses, including Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, but said the House must “act now” instead of waiting and acquiescing to the president’s “obstruction.”

“The case in terms of the Ukraine conduct is ironclad but so is the case of the president’s obstruction of Congress,” he added.

The White House’s decision to block key witnesses from testifying has created a challenge for House impeachment investigators seeking to paint the most complete picture of Trump’s actions.

During a press conference last month, Mulvaney confirmed a “quid pro quo” in which Trump used U.S. military aid as leverage in an effort to get Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden. He later walked back his statement and has defied a congressional subpoena to testify in the impeachment inquiry.

Giuliani, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence have defied subpoenas for documents related to the inquiry, but haven’t been asked to testify.

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton, meanwhile, declined a House invitation to testify and has asked a federal judge to decide whether he should do so or follow White House orders not to.

Schiff on Sunday urged Bolton to show “courage” like former National Security Council official Fiona Hill did last week in testifying before Congress.

“He will have to explain, one day, if he maintains that position why he wanted to wait to put it in a book instead of telling the American people what he knew when it really mattered to the country,” he told CNN.

Asked whether his committee would hand over their impeachment report to the House Judiciary Committee by early December, Schiff wouldn’t say.

“We will take the time that’s necessary,” he said. “We have continued to learn more information every day. And I think that’s going to continue. So, we may have file addendums to that report. We may have other depositions and hearings to do.”

He added that he’s not ready to say whether he will recommend articles of impeachment to the judiciary committee, but said it’s “entirely possible” that additional witnesses could be called if there’s a trial in the Senate.

Over the last two weeks, several current and former State Department officials have publicly testified before Congress that Trump inappropriately pressured Ukraine to investigate Biden, a frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.

Republicans have dismissed some witness testimony as “hearsay,” though the White House has blocked witnesses with firsthand accounts from appearing before Congress. GOP lawmakers and Trump administration officials have also demanded that the whistleblower — whose complaint prompted the impeachment inquiry — be made to testify. 

Schiff has repeatedly pushed back on that request. Democrats had a “deep interest” in having the whistleblower testify, until other witnesses corroborated the whistleblower’s claims and Trump put the person’s life in “danger,” he told NBC on Sunday.

″We don’t need the whistleblower’s secondhand evidence anymore,” Schiff said. “It would only serve to endanger this person and to gratify the president’s desire for retribution, and that is not a good enough reason to bring in the whistleblower.”