Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., departs a meeting with House Democrats on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
Adam Schiff told Insider he feels his safety is threatened by GOP endorsements of Trump’s election lies.
“I continually get death threats” in part because GOP lawmakers have “degraded” public discourse, he said.
He highlighted how GOP lawmakers “live in fear” of Trump and have become an “autocratic cult” around him.
California Rep. Adam Schiff told Insider on Tuesday that he feels that his safety is threatened by many of his fellow lawmakers’ continued endorsements of former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.
Asked whether he still feels like he’s at risk, particularly in the wake of the Capitol insurrection, Schiff replied, “I do, frankly.”
The Democratic lawmaker’s book, “Midnight In Washington,” was released on Tuesday. Among other things, he highlighted his experience during the Capitol siege, writing in his memoir that he was “oddly touched” when Republicans showed concern for his safety and warned him to hide from pro-Trump insurrectionists. But he also realized that he wouldn’t be in danger if not for Republicans’ endorsement of Trump’s lies about the election.
“I continually get death threats,” he told Insider on Tuesday, adding, “It’s not just because of Trump’s big lie, but it’s because of his constant attacks and because other members of his party have just degraded the level of discourse in this country and made it so hateful and vitriolic.”
He also laid the blame on Republicans for amplifying Trump’s bogus claims of widespread voter and election fraud, saying that those who stormed the Capitol “really believed the big lie, but the people that I serve with understand it’s a big lie and they lack the courage to speak the truth about it.”
Schiff pointed to House Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s appearance on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace over the weekend, during which Scalise refused to disavow Trump’s claims after repeatedly being asked to do so.
Scalise “was asked very bluntly by Chris Wallace whether he believed the election was stolen, and he couldn’t give a simple answer,” Schiff said. “He couldn’t answer truthfully. That’s how much they live in fear of Donald Trump, and how they’ve become an anti-truth, anti-democratic, autocratic cult around the former president.”
A spokesperson for Scalise did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Schiff described the Republicans who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election as “insurrectionists in the chamber wearing suits and ties.” Because of the events of January 6, he told Insider, “many” members of the Democratic caucus refuse to this day to work with those Republicans or cosponsor bills with them.
They want “nothing to do with anyone who voted to overturn the election,” he said. “I haven’t taken that approach because I can’t. On the intelligence committee, I need to work to make sure that the oversight of the intelligence agencies get done, that we pass our intelligence authorization legislation to make sure that we’re funding the agencies correctly and that we’re putting in place the right privacy laws, and we’ve been able to do that.”
“Intelligence is too difficult and too complicated to work on on a partisan basis,” he added. “So it’s made it more challenging for everyone but the work has to get done and we still manage to do it.”
Schiff served as ranking member of the intelligence committee during the first half of Trump’s presidency and repeatedly made headlines for butting heads with Rep. Devin Nunes, then the panel’s chairman, over the direction of the committee’s Russia inquiry.
After Democrats regained control of the House in the 2018 midterms, Schiff became the chairman and spearheaded multiple investigations into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties and Trump’s own financial activities. In 2019, he spearheaded the House’s impeachment inquiry into Trump’s Ukraine dealings and later served as the lead impeachment manager during Trump’s Senate trial.
Now, Schiff is one of several lawmakers on the bipartisan select committee examining the January 6 insurrection and the events leading up to it. Several Trump White House aides and other loyalists recently defied the committee’s subpoenas for documents and testimony, and Schiff told Insider on Tuesday that the panel is serious about enforcing the subpoenas.
“It’s our expectation that the Justice Department will enforce criminal contempt [referrals] against those who flout the law,” Schiff said. “I think it’s going to be essential to compile the public record of what led to January 6 so we can prevent it from ever happening again, and that means that we can’t be stymied in our effort to get information.”