Adam B. Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, represents California's 28th District.
In 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin directed an active-measures campaign of unprecedented scale against the United States. His object was to sow discord among Americans and influence the outcome of the presidential election. The Kremlin's multipronged influence operation was not targeted at the United States alone but was part of a global attack on liberal democracy.
Over the past nine months, the House Intelligence Committee has learned a great deal about the scope of these Russian efforts. Like our Senate counterparts, we have found ample evidence to support and build upon the intelligence community's January assessment that Russia was responsible for hacking our democratic institutions and dumping stolen data in an effort to turn Americans against one another, harm Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.
Indeed, the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia used its paid media outlets, as well as technology firms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and potentially others as a part of this effort has been borne out by the ever-increasing identification of Russian advertisements, promoted tweets, fake news and fake accounts designed to covertly move public opinion and stoke division.
Notwithstanding the real progress we have made, the committee has far more work to do to fully understand the extent of Russian interference and to investigate the politically fraught issue of whether individuals associated with the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. Although we are not at liberty to disclose evidence produced before the committee, certain significant matters have already been shared publicly, such as when Donald Trump Jr. revealed emails offering dirt on Clinton from Moscow to the Trump campaign as part of what was described as the Russian government's effort to help Donald Trump. In the email chain, the president's son expressed an eagerness to accept this help, and much more remains to be learned about this interaction with Russian interlocutors and others.
Despite these discoveries, however, there are growing calls from the White House and outside parties aligned with the president to halt the congressional investigations rather than allow the evidence to dictate the pace and breadth of our inquiry. The White House may hope it can prematurely end the congressional probes and then apply pressure to wrap up special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's work as well.
This would be a terrible subversion of justice. But already these efforts are having an effect, as some witnesses are being rushed before Congress without regard for best investigative practices, sometimes out of order or before we obtain documents necessary to question them. Still other witnesses, essential to laying the foundation for the more significant interviews, have yet to be invited before the committee. My colleague K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.) and I are doing our best to manage these pressures, mindful that our investigation must be thorough if it is to be of real value to the American people.
Mueller's probe is far better resourced than any of the congressional probes, with an experienced team of prosecutors and investigators and the FBI able to assist its work. But his role differs from that of Congress. While he will determine whether U.S. laws have been violated and, if so, who should be prosecuted, it is not his job to tell the American people what happened or prescribe remedies. That is the sole responsibility of Congress, and we must perform it with the zeal that the public interest demands.
Here is the challenge: If Mueller finds evidence implicating the president, presumably he will share that information with Congress so that this body can determine whether it rises to a level justifying removal from office. If he finds evidence of criminality concerning other members of the Trump campaign that he believes he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt, we will learn about that in an indictment. But what if he finds, with the stronger investigatory resources at his disposal, evidence of collusion that is clear or convincing but not strong enough to take to a jury — will that ever be shared with Congress? If it is not, can our report to the public ever be truly complete?
The answers to these questions may ultimately fall to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who was sharply critical of former FBI director James B. Comey for sharing information with the public about the Clinton investigation. One thing is clear — the need to permit the investigations to fully run their course and not adhere to a political timetable is all the more essential if there are constraints on the ultimate sharing of information.
Six months ago, during our first open hearing of the investigation, I said that we — meaning Democrats and Republicans on our committee, and also the House and Senate intelligence committees — must make every effort to arrive at a common conclusion. This remains my hope — not consistency for the sake of consistency, or at the cost of incomplete work, but in the service of a public that has too often been forced to choose between competing narratives of the same events. The work must be allowed to continue.