House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on Sunday that he thinks a 2016 offer for dirt on Hillary Clinton by a Russian lawyer to members of the Trump campaign and the subsequent meeting is “direct evidence” of collusion on the part of the president’s team.
“I think there is direct evidence in the emails from the Russians through their intermediary offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of what is described in writing as the Russian government effort to help elect Donald Trump," Schiff said during an appearance on Sunday on CBS’ “Face The Nation."
Schiff added: “They offer that dirt. There is an acceptance of that offer in writing from the president’s son, Don Jr., and there is overt acts and furtherance of that… That to me is direct evidence.”
The California lawmaker, who has been one of Trump’s fiercest critics, said that besides the meeting with the Russian lawyer, there is a slew of circumstantial evidence suggesting collusion between Trump and Russia – pointing out the charges brought against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the testimony last week on Capitol Hill of President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen.
Schiff, however, stopped short of calling for impeachment.
"That is something that we will have to await Bob Mueller's report and the underlying evidence to determine. We will also have to look at the whole body of improper and criminal actions by the president including those campaign finance crimes to determine whether they rise to the level of removal from office," Schiff said.
Last month Schiff announced a broad new investigation looking not only at Russian interference, but also at Trump's foreign financial interests.
Schiff said the investigation will include "the scope and scale" of Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election, the "extent of any links and/or coordination" between Russians and Trump's associates, whether foreign actors have sought to hold leverage over Trump or his family and associates, and whether anyone has sought to obstruct any of the relevant investigations.
The committee interviewed Cohen in private on Thursday and will finish the interview this coming Wednesday. After Cohen left, Schiff announced that the committee will hold an open hearing later this month with Felix Sater, a Russia-born executive who worked with Cohen on an ultimately unsuccessful deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.