'Voters have spoken. Donald Trump lost.' Rep. Adam Schiff on Republicans’ effort to overturn election

Written by Danielle Chiriguayo and Amy Ta, produced by Michell Eloy and Brian Hardzinski

Congressman Adam Schiff tells KCRW that a Republican move to challenge the 2020 election endangers U.S. democracy. In this photo from September 23, 2020, Schiff offers remarks during a press conference on a reforms package at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Photo by Rod Lamkey/CNP/ABACAPRESS.COM

President Trump was in Georgia on Monday night to stump for Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are both competing in runoff elections today. Those two races will decide which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Also in Georgia, Trump turned to his grievances and unfounded conspiracy theories to explain his loss to President-elect Joe Biden.

Congress convenes on Wednesday to certify those results. But more than 100 House Republicans and about a dozen Senate Republicans are mounting a challenge. It’s expected to turn a constitutional procedure into a dramatic moment in U.S. electoral history, though it’s likely to fail. 

Burbank Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff says Biden won the presidency, despite a growing movement among the Republican party to challenge the election, including support for claims that Vice President Mike Pence can reject fraudulent electors.

“The voters have spoken. Donald Trump lost. Joe Biden will be the next president. The vice president's [Pence] role is purely a ministerial one, but I'm not surprised to see the president push up yet another falsehood.” 

He notes that fear and ambition are motivating the challenges. “They fear angering the president. They fear being on the wrong side of an angry tweet. They fear a primary challenge within the Trump base. Some of these senators want to run for president, and they want to run with the support of Trump’s base.”

Schiff says Republicans’ actions are not only destructive to democracy but also the country as a whole. “It is the product of four years of degeneration of the Republican Party under Donald Trump. They don't stand for anything anymore. Not their own, not the Constitution, not their ideology, merely the perpetuation of their power.” 

Schiff says the Republican move to stop certification will fail, but he is concerned it might set up later challenges. “They are setting a precedent that we can expect others to try to follow in the future. Little by little, this is how you diminish safeguards in our democracy.”

On calls for impeachment

Despite calls for Trump’s impeachment, Schiff says the move wouldn’t be practical because voters already chose to elect Biden. However, he doesn’t deny the possibility of civil and criminal repercussions for Trump once he leaves office. 

Even if impeachment were on the table, he notes, some Senate Republicans still support Trump.  

On the Georgia runoff Senate election

According to Schiff, the results of Georgia’s Senate race might help decide whether the Legislature can provide additional financial help for American families or additional vaccination-related resources.

“It's the environment or gun safety, dealing with access to health care, dealing with problems of systemic racism, all of these priorities will be deeply impacted if Mitch McConnell remains leader of what he proudly declares is the legislative graveyard,” Schiff says.

If Democrats win the Senate, he says, “We will not have Mitch McConnell as a majority leader intent as he did with President Obama in making the new president a failed president. But rather, we’ll have a Senate leader who wants to make sure the country succeeds.”

Moving forward, Schiff says Democrats’ slim majority in Congress will be a governing challenge, but he has faith in the leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“We are an extraordinarily diverse group of people in the Democratic Caucus, with a lot of different ideas, and making sure that we all come together for the common good is what we'll need to do.” 

On Russian hacking

Schiff says Russian hacking has hit tens of thousands of systems around the world, including many in the U.S. He calls the act a sophisticated attack, which might have given Russia access to critical infrastructure, national security information, private sector operations, and private citizen information. He notes it’ll be difficult to track what’s been accessed and whether hackers have been purged from the system. 

“It's going to take months, at a minimum, to determine the full extent of the exposure, and to develop plans of mitigation. It also reveals a glaring hole in our cybersecurity and that is the supply chain. If you can embed yourself in cyber updates for products that bear legitimate certificates and signatures, it's very hard to defend against that kind of a Trojan horse attack.”

Credits

Guest:
Adam Schiff - Democratic Congressman from Burbank, and chair of the House Intelligence Committee - @RepAdamSchiff

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Angie Perrin, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Bennett Purser