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House Intel Committee's Adam Schiff On Russia Developments


We're going to bring in another voice now into the conversation, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, California Congressman Adam Schiff. Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.

ADAM SCHIFF: Good to be with you.

MARTIN: You happen to have been a federal prosecutor in another chapter of your life. So with that kind of informed perspective, what could this first round of charges tell us about the way that the Special Counsel's investigation is proceeding?

SCHIFF: Well, if it is a minor character, a smaller fish, I think it indicates that the Special Counsel feels that he has the time to develop the investigation in an orderly way and seek the cooperation of smaller players to find out more about some of the larger players. If, on the other hand, it is a Manafort or Michael Flynn, these are no small fish. This is the campaign chairman for the Trump campaign and the national security adviser of the country at one point, and it may mean that he's moving more quickly, maybe because there are efforts to shut down congressional investigations and then an effort to put pressure on Bob Mueller to wrap up his probe. And he's going to need time. If the indictment, for example, were of Paul Manafort, it could be a year before that goes to trial. It could be a year before he seeks or obtains the cooperation of Mr. Manafort in exchange for a lesser plea to lesser charges. So it will tell us a little bit about how he sees the investigation, how much progress he has made in the relatively short time he's been working at this.

MARTIN: So you're saying that even if it's a minor player, which it may be because the scope of this is quite broad, right? Like, it started out about possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia, but the investigation and Mueller has made it clear that their mandate extends beyond that. If it's a minor player who has nothing to do with Russia, what do you make of that?

SCHIFF: Well, I don't think it'll be a minor player that has nothing to do with Russia. If you look at Paul Manafort, for example, let's say it's either Manafort or someone related to Manafort, someone who worked with Manafort, that's not unrelated to Russia. The Washington Post, for example, revealed emails for Mr. Manafort running to Oleg Deripaska, who is a oligarch close to the Kremlin, offering information about the Trump campaign, the campaign he was managing, in an effort to obtain money that he believed he was owed for work he did in the Ukraine. Now, you might say that's unrelated, but the work he did in Ukraine was on behalf of a pro-Russia party. So he's working in Ukraine, doing work essentially aligned with the Kremlin, believes that he didn't get fully paid, if you believe these reports from The Washington Post, and is offering information on the campaign. Now, that's pretty closely related because at the very same time, the Kremlin, through its intermediaries is reaching out to Manafort, Kushner and the president's son offering information on Hillary Clinton.

MARTIN: We just have seconds remaining. How does this affect your investigation? The chairman of your committee says he wants to wrap this thing up. Do you think there should be a hard line for when your committee says we're done?

SCHIFF: No. Absolutely not. We need to finish the investigation and take the time it needs. It's only related in this way, and that is, the president has been pushing investigations of Hillary Clinton to distract from what Bob Mueller's doing and distract us from our job of figuring out Russia's intervention in our election. So that's the connection.

MARTIN: Congressman Adam Schiff, congressman from California, thanks so much for your time this morning.

SCHIFF: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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