GOP demands Schiff resignation as members spar over Russia probe

The first public meeting of the House Intelligence Committee since the release of the headlines of the Mueller investigation quickly devolved into a partisan brouhaha on Thursday morning, as Republicans on the panel joined in demanding the resignation of chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who fired back by vowing to pursue questionable activities by the Trump campaign in 2016.

The hearing of the panel on "Putin’s Playbook: The Kremlin’s Use of Oligarchs, Money and Intelligence in 2016 and Beyond," was just a backdrop for the simmering tensions in Congress over the findings of the Mueller probe, as GOP lawmakers accused Schiff of making wild and unsupported accusations of wrongdoing against the President and others.

In a letter signed by every GOP member of the House Intelligence panel, Republicans said it was time for Schiff to step aside.

"We have no faith in your ability to discharge your duties in a manner consistent with your Constitutional responsibility," as Republicans called for Schiff's "immediate resignation as Chairman of the Committee."

"Since prior to the inauguration of President Trump in January 2017, you have been at the center of a well-orchestrated media campaign claiming, among other things, the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government," the GOP letter stated.

After hearing a direct call for his resignation, Schiff fired back, with panel Republicans sitting just a few feet away from him on the committee dais.

"My colleagues may think it's okay that the Russians offered dirt on the Democratic candidate for President as part of what was described as the Russian government's effort to help the Trump campaign," Schiff began. "You might think that's okay."

Schiff rattled off a series of matters in the Mueller investigation, from the Trump Tower meeting on 'dirt' about Hillary Clinton, to the lies told by the President's National Security Adviser about his talks with the Russian Ambassador and more, as Schiff vowed to keep investigating what happened before and after the election.

"You might think it's okay that the President himself called on Russia to hack his opponent's emails," Schiff said, citing evidence developed by the Mueller investigation which showed Russian Intelligence undertook efforts to do that just hours after Mr. Trump's campaign trail statement.

"I don't think that's okay," Schiff countered.

The exchanges came a few hours after President Trump had gone on Twitter to call not just for Schiff to be forced out as Intelligence Chairman - but to resign from Congress.

“Congressman Adam Schiff, who spent two years knowingly and unlawfully lying and leaking, should be forced to resign from Congress!” the President wrote on Twitter.

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