'He Must Be Stopped!' Who Is Adam Schiff and Why Is Donald Trump So Afraid of Him?

Trump's scathing attack on the California Congressman begs the question, what does Schiff know and is he getting close?

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Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., center, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, leaves a House Intelligence Committee meeting in order to attend a vote on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., leaves a House Intelligence Committee meeting on Capitol Hill, December 6, 2017Credit: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
The Forward
Nathan Guttman

Rep. Adam Schiff represents California’s 28th congressional district, which includes much of Los Angeles County. Schiff, 57, was first elected to Congress in 2000 and is now the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee - the committe which release the hotly contested Nunes memo.

Schiff’s meticulous and detail-oriented style, combined with his soft-spoken manner, has made him one of the most effective legislators involved in the probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.

U.S. President Donald Trump launched a Twitter attack on Schiff Monday morning writing, "Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!" Trump's scathing attack begs the question, what does Schiff know and is he getting close?

On Monday evening the House Intelligence Committee voted to release a second classified memo about whether the FBI and Justice Department conspired against him.

This memo was written by Democrats on the panel who are pushing back against a GOP document, declassified by Trump last week, that criticizes the methods the FBI used to obtain a surveillance warrant on a onetime Trump campaign associate. The Democratic document attempts to counter some of the arguments and evidence put forward by the Republicans.

Why is Schiff in the news?

The House Intelligence Committee is one of the key bodies investigating Russia’s election interference and any possible collusion with the Trump campaign. As the ranking Democrat on the committee, Schiff has been leading the fight against Republican attempts to either scale back the investigation, shift it to questioning the Obama administration’s actions, or use the committee to raise doubts about the FBI’s impartiality.

Schiff has locked horns with Republican chairman Devin Nunes. They first sparred over the chairman’s attempt last year to bypass the committee by arguing that he had seen proof that the Obama administration was involved in surveilling members of the Trump campaign. More recently, Schiff waged a battle to block the publication of Nunes’s memo, which alleges that the FBI misled a special intelligence court when requesting permission to surveil former Trump adviser Carter Page.

Why did Schiff trying to block the Nunes memo?

Schiff and Democrats on the committee claim the Nunes memo is inaccurate and distorts the truth in order to taint the FBI. He also sided with the FBI in arguing that making a top-secret document public would damage the work of the agency. After the committee voted to release the document along party lines, Schiff found that the version of the Nunes paper sent to the White House for a final security review and approval before publication had been altered and is not identical to that approved by the committee.

What’s in Schiff’s memo?

Schiff had prepared his own 10-page memo in response. In his memo, Schiff counters the claims raised by Republicans, and argues that the request presented to the intelligence court to surveil Page was carried out properly. Schiff’s memo also criticizes Nunes himself, claiming that Nunes’s entire move is aimed at helping Trump defend himself in the Russia case. Schiff’s memo has not been released to the public and will require approval of the Justice Department.

What else has Schiff said about Trump?

Schiff has not limited his criticism of Trump to issues relating to the Russia investigation. He accused Trump of leaking classified information to the Russians during a White House meeting, and demanded that Trump provide full reports about his meetings with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Schiff even publicly questioned the president’s mental fitness.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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