The Slatest

Schiff on Mueller Report: “In Every Way This Is More Significant Than Watergate”

Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff speaks at a press conference on April 18, 2019 in Burbank, California.
Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff speaks at a press conference on April 18, 2019 in Burbank, California.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Rep. Adam Schiff, the head of the House Intelligence Committee, pushed back against suggestions that the findings in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report somehow aren’t as serious as he and other Democrats had suggested. In particular, the allegations surrounding obstruction of justice that are outlined in the Mueller report are “far worse than anything that Richard Nixon did,” Schiff said.

The host of ABC’s This Week, Martha Raddatz, questioned Schiff about his previous statements comparing the actions of the Trump administration to Watergate, leaving the door open for him to take back some of those comments. But Schiff, who has become a favorite target of Republicans ever since Attorney General William Barr released his summary of the Mueller report, made clear that as far as he was concerned his previous statements on the seriousness of the president’s misdeeds continue to stand.

“The obstruction of justice in particular in this case is far worse than anything that Richard Nixon did,” Schiff said. “The break in by the Russians of the Democratic institutions, a foreign adversary far more significant than the plumbers breaking into the Democratic headquarters. So yes, I would say in every way this is more significant than Watergate.” Beyond that though, Schiff also said that the way Trump “would not only not stand up and resist Russian interference in our election but would welcome it goes well beyond anything Nixon did.” Taking Moscow’s side over those of his own intelligence agencies goes is one of the main reasons why “I think it is far more serious than Watergate.”

When asked whether Trump obstructed justice, Schiff said that as far as he’s concerned, there is no doubt about that, noting the obstruction came “in many ways.” Even though Trump’s allies say Mueller’s report exonerates the president, Schiff insists that Mueller “made it abundantly clear he felt he could not indict the president” and beyond that “I think he also felt that he could not say that the president should be indicted, because that would be effectively the same thing.” At the end of the day, Mueller “came as close to saying that the evidence of obstruction was evidence of a crime as he could within the Department of Justice regulations.”