Transcript for Rep. Adam Schiff discusses new book, 'Midnight in Washington'
- Leading House Democrats requested an intelligence damage assessment on Saturday after the FBI retrieved classified documents from former President Donald Trump's home. That request coming from House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence Adam Schiff. Congressman Schiff is the author of Midnight in Washington, now out in paperback. And he joins me now from Las Vegas. Congressman Schiff, thanks for being with us. So you sent that request to the director of intelligence over the weekend. Have you gotten any response? What are you hoping to hear?
- We haven't heard back yet. But I fully expect that the director of national intelligence will conduct an assessment to see how much national security could be compromised if those documents had been released to people who were unauthorized to see them. Some of them had very highly classified markings on them. Top secret/sensitive compartmented information.
That generally means that that document would reveal the source or method by which our intelligence community gains its intelligence. And the compromise of that could cause extremely grave damage to our national security. So I hope to see those documents. I hope to be able to see the analysis and that it is conducted with urgency.
- We're hearing, obviously, top secret. This could be a threat to our national security. What is your biggest concern over what was found in Mar-a-Lago. And if any crimes have been committed, what would you like to see happen?
- Well, in terms of our biggest concern, it is that a source of information will be lost to the United States. And that source can be a human source, in which case their life could be put at risk. Or that source could be a technical source of collection. And if it is discovered, then that technical source can't be used anymore. And that means we have a blind spot we didn't have before. So that's my primary concern.
In terms of what I'd like to see vis-a-vis prosecution, those decisions will be made by the Justice Department. But what I'd like to see is the law applied equally to everyone. I'll tell you, if you or I had documents marked top secret SCI in our basement, we would be under serious investigation right now. And that shouldn't be any different for anyone, including the former President.
- President Trump, as you know, handed over 15 boxes of documents back in January to the National Archives. And now, of course, we're talking about these highly classified documents at his personal property, which many are asking then, why wasn't there urgency before? Why is there concern now? Why wasn't there a concern earlier on?
- Well, I have to expect that there was concern earlier on. And there is public reporting that the Trump people, the Trump lawyers, represented to the government that they had turned over all of the top secret or all of the classified information or national security information. That's the public reporting. I don't know if that's correct. But if it is, it would explain why the FBI and the Justice Department may have believed that this was no longer a national security issue.
But they may have subsequently learned that that wasn't a truthful representation and that the affidavit with that search warrant probably sets out the facts of their investigation. And, ultimately, I think we will learn much about those facts. But I also understand why the Justice Department at this moment doesn't want that affidavit unsealed because it would severely injure their investigation.
- Congressman, we're just a few weeks out from the next round of January 6 hearings. You talk about what's happened up until this point. You've updated your book with that. Given what we know now, what should we expect to see this fall? And do you think there will be an outcome to these January 6 hearings?
- What you should expect to see is more hearings. Those may be with witnesses along the lines of what you're seeing already, although with new information. Or you may also see hearings that focus on our recommendations for how do we protect the country going forward. And that really is our central aim. We're not a prosecutorial body. Although, I'm sure the Justice Department is watching carefully the evidence that we're presenting to the public.
But our goal is really oversight and reform. How do we make sure to protect the country in the future? And the sad reality is here we are a year and a half after the events of January 6 and we are more vulnerable as a democracy than we were then because those that ran with the big lie that led to the violence of that day continue to run with the big lie. And that has really endangered our election system, our faith in our elections, and the democracy itself.
- And Congressman, I mentioned you updated your book talking about the January 6 committee and your participation in that. But also you write about the fear that you felt that day there in the halls of Congress. With everything you've discovered as a committee and everything you've disseminated to the public, is there anything looking back on that day that you personally would have done differently?
- Well, I don't know what we might have done differently. I was part of the effort to oppose the overturning of the election. So I was on the floor arguing against these motions to decertify the results from particular states. And I was there, frankly, until they started breaking the doors and the glass windows to get in. What is so disturbing among many other things looking back on that day is I was sure that the country seeing the terrible end to which Trump and Trumpism had brought us would repudiate-- the Republican Party itself would repudiate what led to that. But instead they have doubled down on that. And so we are in this very vulnerable position.
I think the January 6 committee has done a lot to shed light on the facts that led up to that day, the President's involvement. And in particular what really stands out to me in the investigation is that day in the January 6 mall when the President is told that his supporters on the mall won't go through the metal detectors because they don't want it to give up their weapons. His answer was, then take down the metal detectors. They're not here to hurt me. And that ought to tell us everything we need to know about Donald Trump and his role in all of this.
- Congressman Adam Schiff. The book is called Midnight in Washington. We appreciate your time today. Thank you so much for joining us once again.
- Thank you.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.