Pelosi rushes to Schiff's defense

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform Hillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday rushed to the defense of Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDem lawmaker: 'Quite clear' Trump committed impeachable offenses Hillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars On The Money: House Dem says marijuana banking bill will get vote in spring | Buttigieg joins striking Stop & Shop workers | US home construction slips in March | Uber gets B investment for self-driving cars MORE (D-Calif.) amid a fusillade of attacks from President TrumpDonald John TrumpImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Feds say marijuana ties could prevent immigrants from getting US citizenship Trump approval drops to 2019 low after Mueller report's release: poll 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.
 
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"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 Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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 BarrWilliam Pelham BarrImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Trump approval drops to 2019 low after Mueller report's release: poll Trump: Mueller report was 'written as nastily as possible' by 'true Trump Haters' 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 ConawayDems ramp up subpoena threats GOP zeroes in on Schiff Pelosi rushes to Schiff's defense 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 NunesTen post-Mueller questions that could turn the tables on Russia collusion investigators Schiff, Nunes pressed DOJ for Mueller briefing The Hill's Morning Report - Mueller report will dominate this week 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."