Adam Schiff informed the public that he will launch an investigation into President Trump and his administration’s response to the outbreak.
“After Pearl Harbor and 9/11, we looked at what went wrong to learn from our mistakes,” Adam Schiff said.
“Once we’ve recovered, we need a nonpartisan commission to review our response and how we can better prepare for the next pandemic. I’m working on a bill to do that,” Schiff added announcing the move.
The Washington Post reported that Schiff said in an interview Monday that his staff has already started working on a discussion draft modeled after the 9/11 Commission, and that he would be talking about the possibility with others in Congress. And he said the House Intelligence Committee, which he chairs, has begun reviewing the committee’s intelligence materials on the pandemic.
“We will need to delay the work of the commission until the crisis has abated to ensure that it does not interfere with the agencies that are leading the response,” Schiff explained in an email. “But that should not prevent us from beginning to identify where we got it wrong and how we can be prepared for the next pandemic.”
In the interview Schiff was “concerned” that the next casualty might be Shelby Pierson, who was picked by then-DNI Daniel Coats in 2019 to direct election security efforts. Senate Intelligence Committee members have had similar worries. Pierson became a potential target after she briefed the House Intelligence Committee in February about Russia’s possible preference for Trump in the 2020 election. According to The Post, Trump was so riled when told about the briefing to Schiff’s committee that he fired Pierson’s bosses, Maguire and Hallman.
But Pierson’s position appears to be secure, for now. Maura Beard, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said Tuesday: “At no point has Acting DNI Grenell asked Shelby Pierson to leave her position. . . . She remains actively engaged in ODNI’s work to support FBI and [Department of Homeland Security] in securing our nation’s elections.”
Schiff fears that, as intelligence is politicized, career officers are becoming gun-shy. “I don’t think that there’s any question it’s affecting the work product of the intelligence community,” he said. There’s less reporting to Congress, with fewer details, on issues that might embarrass Trump, such as election security, he noted.
The coronavirus pandemic has some eerie similarities to 9/11. Trump certainly didn’t cause the virus, any more than President George W. Bush plotted Osama bin Laden’s attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. And Trump’s NSC laudably tried to ring the alarm.