National Press Club

Schiff warns against 'tragic' unilateral U.S. action on Iran

June 19, 2019 | By Wesley G. Pippert | PippertW@missouri.edu

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., warned the Trump administration not to take unilateral action against Iran at a June 19 National Press Club Headliners event.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., warned the Trump administration not to take unilateral action against Iran at a June 19 National Press Club Headliners event.

Photo/Image: Al Teich

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., House Intelligence Committee chair, warned Wednesday that U.S. action against Iran requires collaboration with allies and that unilateral action by the Trump administration would require an act of Congress.

"It would be a tragic escalation to act unilaterally," Schiff said at a National Press Club Headliners event.

He emphasized that shipping through the Straits of Hormuz must be protected, but insisted, "We should not embark alone on protecting the Straits of Hurmuz. This needs to be done with our allies ... an international effort to protect shipping."

He criticized Iran as malevolent and responsible for the recent attacks on tankers in the Straits of Hormuz. But he said Iran's actions "were so eminently predictable" because of President Trump's withdrawal from the the nuclear agreement with Iran more than two years ago.

Referring to remarks Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's made last week, Schiff said, "Having left the agreement, then to blame the agreement for Iran's going back to enriching ... it's hard to wrap your mind around that point of view. You have to do some mental gymnastics."

In answer to a question by Club President Alison Fitzpatrick Kodjak, who presided at the session, Schiff endorsed with faint praise Pompeo's trip to win European support for the U.S. position.

On the trip's necessity, Schiff said, "This shows how much we have alienated our allies."

The Congressman opened his remarks with an "overview," concluding that autocracy is on the rise throughout the world, and summing up: "We're at a very dangerous time."

He repeated his insistence that Robert Mueller, the special counsel in the Russia investigation, would have to testify before Congress, "either voluntarily or under subpoena."

Schiff highlighted one area that he said needed more investigation -- the details of the projected Moscow Trump Tower. He said it Trump did not withdraw from involvement in the project after he started his presidential campaign.

He said Trump probably thought: "Why should I miss out on all that money?" involved in construction of the tower, which would be the highest in Europe and perhaps "the most lucrative deal of his life" but needing Russian President Putin's support. He suggested Trump concluded, "I'd be a damn fool to criticize Vladimir Putin."