(Ranking member of House Intelligence Committee, Rep. ADAM SCHIFF (on Face the Nation, 3/26/17): Well, I think that the hearing that we had on Monday, where the director of the FBI testified for the first time that there is an ongoing investigation of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, as well as the disclosure by the director that there was no factual basis for the president’s accusation of wiretapping by his predecessor, I think that hearing went so poorly for the White House, that there was a lot of pushback in doing a second open hearing, honestly, John, because the other explanations simply don’t make sense.
We could always have Directors Comey and Rogers come back at any time. There is no necessity of having them come back before the open hearing. I think that was merely an effort to camouflage the true object here, which was the closure or the cancellation of the hearing with Sally Yates.
I think the chairman has to make a decision, whether to act as a surrogate of the White House, as he did during the campaign and the transition, or to lead an independent and credible investigation.
I hope he chooses the latter. The country really needs to have an independent, credible investigation in the House. And we had that up until and through Monday. Where I think that the House process went off the rails was with that — that venture by the chairman to the White House.
You simply can’t run a credible investigation that way. I am going to do everything I can to get this back on track. And I implore our chairman and the speaker to rededicate themselves to a serious and bipartisan investigation.
We know that Russia was involved in hacking our democracy. We know that the evidence or information is sufficient to warrant an FBI investigation of this. We are trying to do as much of this as we can in the public eye transparently. Obviously, some of it will have to be done in closed session.
But it really demands both parties work together on this. We made every effort to do so, but we need the chairman to decide that is what his object is as well.
I can say that I think that the investigation that the director talked about at our Monday hearing is justified. I think there is a sufficient basis for that investigation, not to only have been indicated, but for it to continue at this point. And I think that we owe it to the country to do this in a credible way.
I would make one final point, John. And that is, I do think the events of this week call out the need for an independent commission, quite separate and apart from what we do in Congress. There are enough questions that have now been called, that have been raised, where I think the establishment of that commission would give the country a lot of confidence that at least one body was doing this in a way that was completely removed from any political considerations.
President Trump said President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.
This week, the FBI director said there was no evidence of that. This wasn’t just a fact-check. It highlighted how lightly President Trump treats the presidency.
We have presidents and we have an office of the presidency. Opponents respect the office, even if they disagree with the occupant. Presidents are criticized, but the presidency is behind protective glass.
That’s why a president can come into office attacking his predecessor’s policies, but later celebrate the dedication of his predecessor’s presidential library. It is why George W. Bush prepared a smooth transition for Barack Obama, and why President Obama did the same for Donald Trump.
Once on the job, a president also gains respect for the presidency because they learn, as President Trump did this week, that the job is harder than it appeared from the campaign trail.
The historical continuity of the presidency is an heirloom and a tool. Presidents gain stature by hugging those who came before them. Donald Trump visited Andrew Jackson’s grave and compared himself to the seventh president, who also spooked elites.
These perks and protections are why presidents honor the presidency.
“I shall keep steadily in view the limitations of my office,” said Andrew Jackson. Break the limits, and you break the office.
Nevertheless, President Trump compared his predecessor to Nixon and McCarthy, called him sick and bad.
To break glass like that, a president must have a good reason and proof. President Trump had no evidence and no higher purpose.
Tending the presidency is important for a disruptive president like Donald Trump, because it shows people he knows the line between renovating the office and demolishing it. You measure twice, and cut once. You don’t cut without measuring at all.
SEN. MARK WARNER (on Meet the Press, 3/26/17):
We know that the Russians massively interfered in our elections, with both hacking, they had a thousand paid internet trolls that managed to take over and flood the zone with fake news. And we have the series of people that are very closely affiliated with the president who’ve had extensive ties with Russia, including the fact, 60 days into the administration, we’ve got both the N.S.A. director, or National Security Advisor, who had to resign, and the attorney general had to recuse himself because of those ties.
Re: Devin Nunes, I am totally mystified by what Mr. Nunes has said. And I’ve talked to my chairman, Richard Burr. He doesn’t know. I’ve talked to Democrats, Republicans on the committee. I think it’s fairly mystifying, if not outrageous, that he’d make these claims, then goes down and briefs the White House. And, you know, I know Adam Schiff, the lead Democrat, still wants to keep the investigation bipartisan. I don’t think Mr. Schiff even knows today what those documents are.
What we’ve got to do is we’re going to have the public hearing. We’re going to continue to do as much as we can in public. But we’ve got a lot more raw intelligence that we’ve got to go through. Because when we bring in people like Mr. Paul Manafort and others, we want to know not some spectacle, we want to be able to ask the right questions.
GOV. JERRY BROWN (re: the proposed Mexican border WALL):
The wall, to me, is ominous. It reminds me too much of the Berlin Wall. When I see that 30-foot wall, I worry somehow, “Are they trying to keep me in, or keep them out?”
I really think people ought to be careful because there’s a lot of odor here of kind of a strongman, kind of a world where you want the ultimate leader here to be doing all this stuff. And having a wall locking the people in is one of those characteristics. I think Americans ought to be very careful when we make radical changes like a 30-foot wall keeping some in and some out.
. . . we’re not going to bring stupid lawsuits or be running to the courthouse every day. We’re going to be careful. We’ll be strategic. And we’ll do the right human, and I would even say Christian thing, from my point of view. You don’t treat human beings like that.
. . . Trump’s supposed to be Mr. Religious Fellow, and I thought we’ve got to treat “the least of these” as we would treat the Lord. So I hope he would reconnect with some of these conservative evangelicals, and they’ll tell him that these are human beings, they’re children of God. They should be treated that way.
TOM BROKAW (re: health care bill):
I think the bottom line at the end of this week is healthcare is 18% of our economy. It affects everyone in America in one form or another, and this is not just a political game, this is not Monopoly. They’ve got to find a way to get this settled. In the Reagan administration they put together Pat Moynihan and Alan Greenspan, and they solved Social Security, by the way.