Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday he’s concerned about whether Russia has compromising material about meetings with Trump campaign aides that could be used to influence the president.
Schiff remarks came in response to the revelation that President Donald Trump’s eldest son and two top campaign aides met last year with a Russian lawyer to get damaging information on Hillary Clinton as part of a Kremlin-backed effort to help Trump win the presidency.
“The most serious risk to the country, I think, is that the Russians possess compromising information, which they call kompromat, that can influence this president’s conduct of American policy,” said Schiff, whose committee is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, including whether any collusion occurred between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
“The Russians know about this meeting,” Schiff continued. “They were behind organizing the meeting. If there are other meetings that the Russians know about, if there are other interactions with the Trump campaign that the Russian are aware of, that is something they can hold over the head of the president of the United States.”
He added: “The American people need to know that our president is acting on their behalf and not acting because he has a fear the Russians could disclose things that could harm him or his family.”
Schiff said his committee would need to speak with Donald Trump Jr. and others who participated in the meeting with the Russian lawyer.
He also said Trump Jr. and other aides might have violated the law.
“Conspiracy is against the law,” Schiff said.
But, he explained, “I don’t want to see us continue to lower the bar here and say the only question is whether this is illegal. This was unethical. It was, I think, a violation of the oaths of citizenship to willingly solicit, receive, encourage foreign intervention in our elections.”