Pelosi rushes to Schiff's defense

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Ginsburg successor must uphold commitment to 'equality, opportunity and justice for all' Bipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Pelosi orders Capitol flags at half-staff to honor Ginsburg MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday rushed to the defense of Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTop Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence Overnight Defense: Top admiral says 'no condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' | Intelligence chief says Congress will get some in-person election security briefings Overnight Defense: House to vote on military justice bill spurred by Vanessa Guillén death | Biden courts veterans after Trump's military controversies MORE (D-Calif.) amid a fusillade of attacks from President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE and other top Republicans demanding that the House Intelligence Committee chairman vacate his seat on the panel — or resign from Congress altogether.
Pelosi said Schiff's GOP critics are launching desperate attacks to distract from the facts surrounding Trump's dealings with Russian figures both during and since the 2016 campaign — an issue Schiff and committee Democrats continue to investigate.
"What is the president afraid of? Is he afraid of the truth, that he would go after ... a respected chairman of a committee in the Congress? I think they're just scaredy cats; they just don't know what to do. So they have to make an attack," Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol.
"It's their own insecurity, their own fear of the truth, their fear of the facts, and their fear of an effective patriotic leader, in his measured way, who's going to make sure the American people know the truth," she added.
Schiff, the top Democrat on the Intelligence panel throughout Trump's presidency, came under fire from Republicans this week following the end of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's 22-month investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 election. In a brief outline of Mueller's findings, released Sunday, Attorney General William BarrBill BarrBarr says Ginsburg 'leaves a towering legacy' Republicans call for DOJ to prosecute Netflix executives for releasing 'Cuties' Trump doesn't offer vote of confidence for FBI director MORE said the exhaustive probe found no criminal conspiracy between Russia and Trump's team.
Throughout the Mueller investigation, Schiff was a frequent guest on cable news programs, where he asserted there was already enough evidence to conclude that Trump had "colluded" with Moscow to help his presidential victory — a message he reiterated this week.
“There was a big difference between whether there was evidence of collusion — and I think that evidence is in plain sight — and whether you can establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a criminal conspiracy,” he told CNN on Monday.
All nine Republican members of the Intelligence Committee delivered a letter to Schiff on Thursday urging him to relinquish his gavel.
"We have no faith in your ability to discharge your duties in a manner consistent with your constitutional responsibility and urge your immediate resignation as chairman of this committee,” said Rep. Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayLive coverage: Democrats, Republicans seek to win PR battle in final House impeachment hearing Laughter erupts at hearing after Democrat fires back: Trump 'has 5 Pinocchios on a daily basis' Live coverage: Schiff closes with speech highlighting claims of Trump's corruption MORE (Texas), a senior Republican on the panel.
Trump, hours earlier, had called on Schiff to resign from Congress.
"Congressman Adam Schiff, who spent two years knowingly and unlawfully lying and leaking, should be forced to resign from Congress!" Trump tweeted.
A defiant Schiff confronted his critics head on Thursday, accusing Republicans of whitewashing well-established contacts between Russian figures and Trump's campaign during the campaign, including a June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with the president's eldest son.
Pelosi, a few hours later, piled on, calling the criticisms "shameful, sad [and] irresponsible," while going after Schiff's predecessor atop the committee — Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesSunday shows preview: With less than two months to go, race for the White House heats up Sunday shows preview: Republicans gear up for national convention, USPS debate continues in Washington Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief MORE (R-Calif.) — for what she characterized as "almost criminal behavior."
Almost two years ago, Nunes had publicly recused himself from the investigation into Russia's election meddling after the Ethics Committee opened its own probe into whether he had disclosed classified information. Pelosi on Thursday said the recusal was a charade, suggesting Nunes was working behind the scenes to protect his White House ally all along.
"He should have recused himself. He gave you the impression that he recused himself, but he never did," she said. "He acted in a very bad way."