Pelosi rushes to Schiff's defense

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi11 Essential reads you missed this week Pelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Is there internet life after thirty? MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday rushed to the defense of Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley: YouTube disables 200+ accounts over Hong Kong misinformation | Lawmakers sound alarm over Chinese influence efforts | DHS cyber agency details priorities | State AGs get tough on robocalls | DOJ busts online scammers Nadler asks other House chairs to provide records that would help panel in making impeachment decision YouTube disables over 200 accounts amid protests in Hong Kong MORE (D-Calif.) amid a fusillade of attacks from President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham: America must 'accept the pain that comes in standing up to China' Weld 'thrilled' more Republicans are challenging Trump New data challenges Trump's economic narrative 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) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony 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 BarrFeds charge five in international ID theft ring targeting military members, veterans The road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces Correctional officers subpoenaed in Epstein investigation: report 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 ConawayTexas faces turbulent political moment Democratic Party official: Texas is 'biggest battleground state in the country' Another Texas congressman planning to retire 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 NunesThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch 10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall Juan Williams: Trump, his allies and the betrayal of America 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."