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story.lead_photo.caption Adam Schiff

WASHINGTON -- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Sunday that he won't rule out the possibility of his committee undertaking more depositions and hearings in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

Schiff, D-Calif., said on CNN's State of the Union that his committee continues to conduct investigative work and that he won't let the Trump administration stall the inquiry.

Schiff's staff and others are compiling the panel's findings to submit to the House Judiciary Committee, which is expected to open its own hearings to consider articles of impeachment and a formal recommendation of charges. Schiff said his committee may need to file addendums to its report so the Judiciary Committee can move ahead in the meantime.

"The investigation isn't going to end," Schiff said.

Democrats argue that the president tried to leverage $391 million in congressionally approved military assistance and an Oval Office meeting in exchange for investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a debunked theory concerning purported Ukrainian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

But Republicans contend that the allegations that Trump sought to bribe Ukraine are unsupported by firsthand testimony.

The ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, said on Fox News' Sunday Morning Futures that public hearings over the past two weeks have drawn in many Americans who don't normally follow cable news. He said the hearings showed that House Republicans are serious legislators and but proved to be "nothing but a total disaster" for Democrats.

"It's probably the first time that they actually realized this whole Russia thing was a hoax and the Ukraine thing is a hoax," Nunes contended.

Schiff said he wants to talk with constituents and colleagues before making a final judgment on impeachment. Still, he argued that the evidence produced so far "overwhelmingly shows serious misconduct by the president."

Congressional Republican support for Trump is showing no overt signs of buckling. Schiff said that if no Republicans ended up voting to support impeachment, he believes it would mean a failure of the GOP to put the country over their party. He contended that if former President Barack Obama had acted like Trump has toward Ukraine, then Republicans "would have voted to impeach him in a heartbeat with a fraction of the evidence."

"If this had been a Democratic president, I would be among those leading the way and saying, 'We need to seriously consider impeaching this president,'" Schiff asserted.

If the Democratic-led House did vote to impeach Trump, then the case would move to the Senate, where a trial would likely take place in early 2020.

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said on Fox News Sunday that he expects the House to vote to impeach.

"When it comes to the Senate, I do not think the allegations will be summarily dismissed," Kennedy said.

He said he is in favor of letting all sides "offer whatever in terms of evidence and bring whatever witnesses they want."

"I don't mind sitting there as long as it takes," Kennedy said.

TRUMP'S DEFENSE

Trump, meanwhile, continued to take aim at Democrats, saying in a tweet Sunday that they "are not getting important legislation done" because of the impeachment inquiry.

"USMCA, National Defense Authorization Act, Gun Safety, Prescription Drug Prices, & Infrastructure are dead in the water because of the Dems!" Trump said, referring to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and other matters.

In another tweet, Trump claimed that public opinion has "turned very strongly against Impeachment, especially in swing states," though national polls have shown that public sentiment about impeachment has not significantly changed.

Administration officials and Republicans on Sunday continued to defend Trump and sought to keep the focus on Biden, who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway argued that there was no quid pro quo because Ukraine eventually received its military aid and because Trump met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in late September.

Conway also dismissed the notion that last week's testimony strengthened Democrats' hand, saying that she sees swing-district Democrats "wringing their hands" over what to do.

"I think defense will go on offense if there is a Senate trial, and we'll be able to call witnesses, we'll be able to challenge their witnesses, produce other evidence," Conway said on CBS News' Face the Nation.

She added, "We simply can't impeach and remove a democratically elected president from office because they didn't beat him in 2016, they haven't a clue how to beat him in 2020, they don't much like him."

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he was "pretty sure that every single one" of Conway's assertions was "inaccurate," noting that Ukraine received its military aid and that Trump met with Zelenskiy in New York only after a whistleblower made the complaint that triggered the impeachment inquiry.

"I understand that the White House is all about making facts slippery," Himes said. "When the jig was up, yes, then the aid was released, once they [Trump and his allies] were caught."

Himes also challenged Conway's assertion that Democrats in Congress were losing faith in the allegations.

"I don't think any Democrat in the Congress looked at what happened over the last two weeks and said, 'Gosh, there's nothing there,'" Himes said, adding: "Every single day, every single piece of testimony brought up new information."

Calling allegations of a quid pro quo with Ukraine a "red herring," Kennedy said it's important for lawmakers to understand why Trump asked Zelenskiy for an investigation of the Bidens and what Hunter Biden did as a board member for Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company.

Kennedy said it was unfair that Trump was unable to call witnesses or offer a direct rebuttal during the initial proceedings of the impeachment inquiry.

Schiff pushed back against the argument from some Republicans that he himself should be called to testify in the event of a Senate trial, noting, "I'm not a fact witness."

"All I can relate is what the witnesses said in deposition and in the open hearings," he said, arguing that calling him to testify would show a lack of seriousness by Senate Republicans.

On CNN, Schiff also declined to say whether he believes the House Ethics Committee should investigate Nunes over allegations that he met with an ex-Ukrainian official to obtain information about Joe Biden and his son.

NUNES ALLEGATIONS

On Fox News, Nunes declined to answer further questions about the accusations that he met with ex-Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin in Vienna last year, which he previously dismissed as "demonstrably false and scandalous" in an interview with the conservative outlet Breitbart News. A person close to Shokin also has denied the allegations.

The allegations were made by the attorney for Lev Parnas, one of two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani who were indicted on charges that they broke campaign finance law.

Parnas' attorney Joseph Bondy told The Washington Post that Shokin informed Parnas that he had met with Nunes in Vienna in December 2018.

Shokin is a key figure in the allegations that Giuliani conducted an effort to pressure Ukraine's government to investigate the Bidens. He was removed from his position in March 2016 amid pressure from Ukraine's Western allies. He has accused Joe Biden of pushing for his removal to protect Hunter Biden.

Speaking to Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, Nunes said: "I really want to answer all of these questions, and I promise you I absolutely will come back on the show ... but I think you can understand that I can't compete by trying to debate this out with the public media when 90% of the media are totally corrupt."

Nunes has also threatened to sue two of the news outlets that reported Parnas' accusations. On Fox News, Nunes said that CNN and The Daily Beast were "likely conspiring to obstruct justice" by basing their reporting on interviews with a lawyer for Parnas.

"It's so slanderous," Nunes said. "We've got all the facts on our side, and we're going to file in federal court. ... I will win in court and they [CNN and The Daily Beast] will have a chance to cooperate, and they'll have to show how they worked with somebody who has been indicted, which is likely conspiring to obstruct justice here."

Nunes said he planned to file "right after Thanksgiving."

In an emailed statement to The Washington Post, The Daily Beast said: "We don't comment on threats of litigation but stand by our reporting and are happy to defend it."

A representative for CNN declined to comment.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., said Saturday that it was "quite likely, without question" that Nunes would face an ethics investigation after media reports of a Shokin meeting.

Himes said Sunday that Nunes has "given over utterly to the defense of the president and, more importantly, to the propagation of fantastical conspiracy theories" about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

"I don't know what happened on that trip," Himes said on Face the Nation, "but the allegation is that Devin Nunes used federal funds to fly himself and a couple of staffers over there in the search of dirt on Biden. ... Look, I haven't seen evidence one way or the other, but obviously Mr. Parnas may be able to cast some light on that."

Information for this article was contributed by Kevin Freking and Hope Yen of The Associated Press and by Felicia Sonmez, Elise Viebeck, Scott Clement, Rosalind S. Helderman and Colby Itkowitz of The Washington Post.

Photo by Pool Bloomberg
Devin Nunes

A Section on 11/25/2019

Print Headline: Not finished with inquiry, Schiff asserts; Trump’s allies, critics look to possibility of Senate trial

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