Schiff: Wall dividing House Intel panel’s staff a ‘terrible idea’

Schiff: Wall dividing House Intel panel’s staff a ‘terrible idea’
© Greg Nash

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffWhite House rejects Dem request for documents on Trump-Putin communications Dems request probe into spa owner suspected of trying to sell access to Trump Dems fear Trump is looking at presidential pardons MORE (D-Calif.) spoke out Tuesday against a plan from the panel's chairman, Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesHillicon Valley: EU hits Google with .7 billion antitrust fine | GOP steps up attack over tech bias claims | Dems ask FTC for budget wishlist | Justices punt on Google privacy settlement Devin Nunes 'cow' parody account overtakes Nunes in Twitter followers MSNBC's Hayes on Nunes's Twitter lawsuit: US 'almost literally founded on mocking political leaders' MORE (R-Calif.), to build a physical barrier between the staffs of Democrats and Republicans on the committee, calling the idea "terrible."

In an interview in Politico's Playbook, Schiff says that ending the cooperation between minority and majority members on the committee would have a negative effect on the committee's Russia investigation.

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"One of the things I've really treasured about our [House Intelligence] committee is that our staff all sit together, our staff work together," Schiff said Wednesday. 

"The Russia investigation has made that difficult, but ... the non-Russia-related work has continued in a very nonpartisan way," he added.

The California Democrat joked that like President TrumpDonald John TrumpCummings says Ivanka Trump not preserving all official communications Property is a fundamental right that is now being threatened 25 states could see severe flooding in coming weeks, scientists say MORE's plan for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, Mexico will be unwilling to foot the bill for this barrier.

"So the wall is a terrible idea," Schiff said, adding: "Plus, Mexico will never pay for it. Though I suspect if they did build the wall in our committee, it will be the only wall Trump ever gets built."

The committee has been at the center of weeks of partisan bickering over the release of a Democratic memo meant to counter claims made in a Republican-crafted document released earlier this month detailing alleged surveillance abuses by the FBI.

The White House refused to release the Democratic memo earlier this month, accusing Democrats of including classified material and calling for redactions.

Last week, Schiff said that he was close to reaching a deal with the FBI to release the Democrats' version of the memo.

"I think we’re very close to reaching an agreement on it,” he said.

“What I am trying to gain visibility into is what are the concerns of the FBI and [Justice Department], because we want to redact that. And what are political redactions that the White House might be insisting on?” he said.

Tensions between Republicans and Democrats on the committee have reportedly become so hostile that it was reported earlier this month that GOP members of the committee are planning to build a literal wall separating the two parties’ staffers.

The partition is expected to be constructed this spring in the committee’s secure spaces.