Schiff: Trump conversations with acting attorney general 'wrong at every level'

Incoming House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffWhite House defends not sanctioning Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi What good are the intelligence committees? Biden holds off punishing Saudi crown prince, despite US intel MORE (D-Calif.) on Sunday said it's “wrong on every level” for President TrumpDonald TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend MORE to discuss the federal investigation and prosecution of his former lawyer with acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

“The president of the United States is discussing a case in which he’s implicated with the attorney general. That is wrong at every level and of course it will taint anything this acting attorney general does,” Schiff said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”


“This is a real assault on the rule of law and we’re going to scrutinize every single action by Matt WhitakerMatthew G WhitakerEx-federal prosecutor: 'Thank God' Whitaker is gone, Barr will bring 'integrity' back to DOJ GOP pollster says Dems are relitigating 2016 election with investigations of Trump Former senior FBI official calls Whitaker hearing ‘disgraceful’ MORE so the public knows just what he does,” Schiff, who will likely become chairman of the House Intelligence Committee when Democrats take over the House majority in January, added.

Trump vented his frustration over the investigation with Whitaker in recent weeks, according to reporting by CNN, voicing anger over prosecutors implicating the president in a 2016 scheme to pay women who alleged extramarital affairs with Trump.

Schiff said on Sunday that those conversations, if they happened, would be highly improper. He noted that Whitaker has been advised not to supervise the prosecution of Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

“The ethics lawyers told him that he should not participate, should not supervise this investigation, that the public wouldn’t have confidence in his judgments and now we learn they’re discussing the case,” Schiff said.

He argued that Whitaker shouldn’t have any supervisory role over the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, which has prosecuted Cohen, “because you’re required to remove yourself when there’s an appearance of a conflict of interest.”

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison earlier this month after he admitted to covering up Trump’s “dirty deeds.”

Schiff argued that Trump could be indicted, even though some legal experts have argued that Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memos from 1973 make the president immune from a federal indictment.

Schiff, a Harvard-trained former prosecutor, disputed that view.

“When you look at the OLC opinions, there’s a very powerful case to be made that you can indict a sitting president. It’s more difficult to make the case that they should be tried while they’re in office because that would be very disruptive of the president’s responsibilities,” he said.

“The only argument [in the memos] made was that it would stigmatize the president. Well, the Justice Department already crossed that Rubicon when they said Individual No. 1, when they said the president was implicated in those two crimes,” he said of plea agreement with Cohen.