A breakfast table full of questions for Adam Schiff

When Rep. Adam Schiff stepped into Washington’s St. Regis Hotel Thursday for a Monitor Breakfast, there was no shortage of topics on the table.

Michael Bonfigli/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, speaks at a breakfast organized by The Christian Science Monitor at the St. Regis Hotel on Sept. 23, 2021, in Washington.

Dear Reader,

When Rep. Adam Schiff stepped into Washington’s St. Regis Hotel Thursday for a Monitor Breakfast with reporters, there was no shortage of topics on the table.

Two days earlier, the 11-term Democrat from California had rolled out a package of reforms aimed at curbing presidential power – a reaction to the Trump presidency called the Protecting Our Democracy Act. Congressman Schiff led with a pitch for the legislation.

But, as I pointed out in my breakfast report, Mr. Schiff wears many hats. He’s chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He’s a member of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. He played a key role in President Donald Trump’s first impeachment.

So he was peppered with questions on a range of topics – from the many ways presidential power could be reined in, to the Jan. 6 probe, the U.S. drone strike that killed 10 Afghan civilians, and the Democrats’ aggressive policy agenda.

The news coverage afterward reflected the breadth of the discussion. Reuters went with Mr. Schiff’s comment that multiple congressional committees are investigating the errant drone strike and the intelligence failure that preceded it. Axios and The Hill highlighted his statement that Jan. 6 committee witnesses who refuse to testify could face criminal contempt charges. The Washington Times led with my question on how the Biden family might be affected by the Protecting Our Democracy Act.

But I was also reminded of the old Tip O’Neill saying, “all politics is local.” After the breakfast, I asked Mr. Schiff if he was pleased that the U.S. government had finally, fully recognized the Armenian genocide of 1915-1923. It’s a topic near to my heart, and I had anticipated President Joe Biden’s decision in April in a short piece about an Armenian-American friend whose surgeon father had escaped the genocide – and went on to treat former Sen. Bob Dole.

Mr. Schiff represents a district in Los Angeles County, home to the largest Armenian community outside Armenia. He fought for genocide recognition for 20 years. And yes, he’s pleased.

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