Representative Adam Schiff of California is the Ranking Democrat on the important House Intelligence Committee, which has found itself under a microscope as it investigates Russia’s hacking to influence the 2016 Presidential Election. That investigation was complicated this week when Committee Chairman Devin Nunes made the surprising decision on March 22 to tell President Donald Trump about intercepts he saw that showed Trump’s transition team was “incidentally” monitored by the U.S. government.
Schiff was visibly frustrated during a press conference after Nunes’ meeting since he didn’t share this information with anyone else on the committee before showing it the president. Therefore, Schiff thinks there needs to be an independent investigation into Russia’s role in the election, especially since Nunes was on Trump’s transition team.
The 56-year-old Schiff, who was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, has been in Congress since 2001 after serving in the California State Senate. His current Congressional District, California’s 28th, covers part of Los Angeles County.
Here’s what you need to know about Schiff.
1. Schiff Questioned If Nunes Was Part of a ‘Broader Campaign’ to Deflect Attention From James Comey’s Wiretapping Testimony
March 22 was a dramatic day in Washington, although it’s already in the rearview mirror because of the Republican health care vote taking center stage. Earlier that day, Nunes told the press that he saw evidence that there was “incidental collection” of conversations involving Trump Transition team members and could have included Trump himself. Nunes insisted that there was still no evidence to back Trump’s claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped him during the 2016 presidential election, just as FBI Director James Comey confirmed during a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee on March 20.
Without showing this evidence to Schiff, Nunes went to the White House with it and then held another press conference about his findings. While the second press conference was going on, Trump said he felt “somewhat” vindicated, even though Trump never said anything about monitoring after the election.
Since Nunes previously worked for the Trump Transition team himself, Schiff accused Nunes of being part of a “broader campaign” to divert attention away from Comey’s March 20 testimony.
“The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House, because he cannot do both,” Schiff said, notes Politico.
“I think the actions of today throw great doubt into the ability of both the chairman and the committee to conduct the investigation the way it ought to be conducted,” Schiff added. He then called for an independent commission to investigate Russia’s role in the 2016 Presidential Election.
On March 24, Schiff tweeted that Nunes cancelled a House Intelligence Committee meeting with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Interim Attorney General Sally Yates to “choke off public info.”
Democrat Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee issued a response to Devin Nunes’ unprecedented updates on the Donald Trump Russia investigation.
2. Schiff Says He’s Seen ‘More Than Circumstantial Evidence’ to Link Trump Campaign With Russia
During an interview with NBC News on March 22, Schiff said he has seen evidence that’s “more than circumstantial” that could show that members of the Trump Campaign colluded with Russia.
“I can tell you that the case is more than that and I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now,” Schiff said. He couldn’t be more specific, explaining, “I don’t want to get into specifics but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of an investigation.”
Schiff made similar comments in a CNN interview on March 23, adding that, “I do think that it’s appropriate to say that it’s the kind of evidence that you would submit to a grand jury at the beginning of an investigation. It’s not the kind of evidence that you take to a trial jury when you’re trying to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt. But we’re at the beginning of an investigation, and given the gravity of the subject matter, I think that the evidence certainly warrants us doing a thorough investigation.”
However, Schiff said that he wasn’t calling for a real grand jury, just making the analogy.
House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes provided an update on the Trump-Russia investigation, and on the evidence he’s seen related to Donald Trump’s wiretapping claims.
3. Schiff’s Wife Is Named Eve
Schiff is married to Eve Marion Schiff, meaning that the couple is a real life “Adam and Eve.” In an interview with The Hill back in 2006, Schiff said that friends often suggested they name their children “Cain and Abel.” They never considered that, though.
Schiff and Eve have two children, daughter Alexa and son Elijah. Alexa is now 17, while Elijah is 13.
Back in 2012, Schiff took Alexa to work on “Take Your Daughter to Work Day.” “You always see in movies and like TV shows people talking on the House floor,” Alexa told SCPR in 2012. “And it’s really cool to be there where everything happens.”
According to InsideGov.com, Schiff has an estimated net worth of $1.74 million, which is 63 percent more than the average member of Congress.
Schiff, who is Jewish, earned a political science degree from Stanford University. He also earned a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School.
While House Republicans were scrambling to get support for their Health Care bill, President Donald Trump was busy getting into an 18-wheeler.
4. Schiff Worked With Mike Pence to Preserve Freedom of the Press
Preserving the freedom of the press in the U.S. and abroad has been one of Schiff’s top causes since he was elected to Congress. This goal resulted in two achievements, both of which involved working with Republican Congressman and future Vice President Mike Pence.
In May 2006, Schiff and Pence launched the Congressional Caucus for Freedom of the Press, which was chaired by the two Representatives with Senators Chris Dodd and Richard Lugar. Schiff remains the only co-chair of this caucus still in Congress, although Pence is now Trump’s Vice President.
Pence and Schiff also introduced the original version of the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act of 2009. The bill earned bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. It was signed into law by President Barack Obama in May 2010.
The act, named after the Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered in Pakistan in the weeks after the September 11, 2002 terror attacks, orders the State Department to include evaluations of the press in other countries in annual human rights reviews.
“We hope this legislation will help the United States work with other nations to better protect [Pearl’s] colleagues serving on the frontlines in the fight for greater accountability and transparency,” Schiff said in a statement at the time. “Freedom of expression cannot exist where journalists are not safe from persecution and attack. Our government must promote freedom of the press by putting on center stage those countries in which journalists are killed, imprisoned, kidnapped, threatened, or censored.”
Who is that woman sitting behind Neil Gorsuch? It is Mary Elizabeth Taylor, who now works in the White House and used to work for Mitch McConnell.
5. Schiff Was a Democrat on the Benghazi Committee & Called it a ‘Waste of Time’
Schiff was one of five Democrats on the Select Committee on Benghazi, which investigated the September 11, 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s actions. The committee was chaired by Republican Ted Gowdy of South Carolina.
Despite being a member of the committee, Schiff openly criticized it. In May 2014, he told Fox News that it was a “colossal waste of time” because there were already bipartisan investigations into the attack.
“I don’t think it makes sense really for Democrats to participate,” Schiff said in 2014. “I think it’s just a tremendous red herring, and a waste of taxpayer resources. So I hope the Speaker will reconsider but it looks as though he has bowed again to those on the farthest right of his conference.”
In a September 2015 New York Times op-ed, Schiff called for it to be disbanded, adding that the committee was “little more than a partisan tool to influence the presidential race.”
He added, “There is no evidence that the military was ordered to stand down, no evidence of gun running, no evidence that the President or Secretary of State interfered with security in Benghazi or the response to the tragedy and no evidence of politicization – except by the Select Committee itself.”