Midnight in Washington: A Conversation with Rep. Adam Schiff
November 10, 2021
The congressman who led the first impeachment of Donald Trump offers an inside account of American democracy in its darkest hour — and a warning that the forces of autocracy released by Trump remain as potent as ever. In his new book, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) argues that the Trump presidency has so weakened our institutions and compromised the Republican Party that the peril will last for years.
The John Brademas Center of New York University and the Brennan Center for Justice hosted a virtual conversation with Brennan Center President Michael Waldman interviewing Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. The congressman took the audiene inside his team of impeachment managers, their desperate defense of the Constitution, and the disastrous culmination of Trump’s presidency on January 6, as armed rioters invaded the Capitol.
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Congressman Adam Schiff represents California's 28th Congressional District. In his 11th term in the House of Representatives, Schiff currently serves as the Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which oversees the nation's intelligence agencies. Schiff is on a leave of absence from the House Appropriations Committee, where he remains an ex officio member. He is the author of, Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could.
Congressman Schiff's Bio Continued...
Schiff was born in Framingham, Massachusetts to Edward and Sherrill Ann (Glovsky) Schiff. His father was in the "rag business," selling different lines of clothing across the country, which caused the family to move first to Scottsdale, Arizona and then Alamo, California. Schiff graduated from Danville's Monte Vista High School in the Bay Area, and went on to both Stanford University and Harvard Law School.
After Schiff graduated from Harvard, he moved to Los Angeles to serve as a law clerk for Judge William Matthew Byrne, Jr. Schiff then joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles as a federal prosecutor, where he served for almost six years, most notably prosecuting, Richard Miller, the first FBI agent ever to be indicted for spying for Russia.
Adam and his wife, Eve (yes, it's true - Adam and Eve) have two children, a daughter, Alexa, and a son, Elijah.
In 1996, Schiff was elected to the California State Senate, and when his term began, he was the Senate’s youngest member at 36. During his four-year term, Schiff chaired the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Juvenile Justice and the Joint Committee on the Arts. Schiff authored dozens of bills that were enacted into law, from guaranteeing up-to-date textbooks in the classroom, overhauling state child support laws, passing a patient's bill of rights, and guaranteeing cost-of-living increases for teacher pensions. He authored the Schiff-Cárdenas Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act of 2000, which provided millions in unprecedented funding to keep at-risk youth out of prison. Perhaps most notably, Schiff is known as the "Father of the Gold Line" for his work to expand Metro rail into the San Gabriel valley, from Pasadena to Azusa, a project that is still ongoing.
While serving in the State Senate, Schiff also taught political science courses at Glendale Community College.
In 2000, Schiff was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he has served ever since. He currently chairs the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and is on leave from the House Appropriations Committee. He also previously served on both the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees.
Schiff successfully advocated for the inclusion of the Mixed Earners Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act in Congressional relief legislation, to ensure that individuals who earn mixed sources of income - including thousands of his constituents who are freelancers, contract workers, in the entertainment industry and gig economy - are not left out of vital unemployment assistance. A firm believer that we must be guided by science, Rep. Schiff also introduced the Masks Work Act to mail free face coverings to any American who requests one and provide funding for further research and a public service announcement campaign on mask efficacy. And to ensure that we are better prepared to face future public health crises, Rep. Schiff introduced a bill to create a 9/11-style commission to review, after the fact, the U.S. government's response to the coronavirus pandemic and make recommendations for the future.
He has worked to harden our defenses against foreign interference in our elections and expose it to the American public. In 2020, he sponsored the Protecting Our Democracy Act, landmark legislation to prevent the abuse of power by any president and to strengthen checks and balances.
Schiff is recognized as a leader on national security and foreign policy issues, emphasizing a strategy that calls on America to play a leadership role around the world in cooperation with our allies, while remaining true to our values and interests. Schiff has advanced efforts to protect the freedom of the press overseas by authorizing the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, as well as legislation to prevent the proliferation of nuclear material to terrorist groups. He has also been a longtime advocate to sunset out of date Authorizations to Use Military Force and to refocus America's counterterrorism mission.
Schiff is a longtime champion of the environment and investments in infrastructure and mass transit. As a State Senator, he wrote the legislation establishing the Gold Line Light Rail Authority, and in Congress has led efforts to extend the light rail and mass transit throughout Los Angeles County. Throughout his time in Congress, Schiff has pushed to preserve and protect the Rim of the Valley Corridor by adding almost 200,000 acres to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to protect natural resources and habitats around the Los Angeles basin for generations to come. Schiff's bill passed the House in February 2020. Schiff has also worked with the local community to protect constituents from increased noise from helicopters and airplanes and to secure funding to help restore the Los Angeles River.
Schiff has also been a leading advocate for equality and human rights at home and around the world. Schiff serves as Vice Chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus. He has also led efforts in Congress to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide and in 2019 the U.S. Congress passed Schiff's related resolution with overwhelming bipartisan support, ending decades of shameful silence on the issue.
Schiff represents Hollywood in Congress, and because the entertainment industry is one of the largest job creators in the region and an economic powerhouse, Schiff is a leader on efforts to combat intellectual property theft and digital piracy. He has worked on a bipartisan basis to support copyright protections and crack down on those who would steal the work of U.S. creators for a profit.
Schiff's district is also home to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in La Cañada-Flintridge, which has fueled his belief that American leadership in space exploration is a key economic driver in tech and emerging industries. Schiff has fought hard to preserve and expand the robotic missions undertaken by JPL from missions to Mars to a future mission to Jupiter's moon of Europa. And closer to home, he has partnered with the California Institute of Technology to obtain over $100 million in federal funding for the Earthquake Early Warning system, which can provide Californians a warning prior to the arrival of a destructive earthquake.
Michael Waldman is President of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. A nonpartisan law and policy institute that focuses on improving systems of democracy and justice, the Brennan Center is a leading national voice on voting rights, money in politics, criminal justice reform, and constitutional law. Waldman, a constitutional lawyer and writer who is an expert on the presidency and American democracy, has led the Center since 2005.
President Waldman's Bio Continued...
Waldman was director of speechwriting for President Bill Clinton from 1995 to 1999, serving as assistant to the president. He was responsible for writing or editing nearly two thousand speeches, including four State of the Union and two inaugural addresses. He was special assistant to the president for policy coordination from 1993 to 1995.
He is the author of The Fight to Vote (Simon & Schuster, 2016), a history of the struggle to win voting rights for all citizens. The Washington Post wrote, “Waldman’s important and engaging account demonstrates that over the long term, the power of the democratic ideal prevails — as long as the people so demand.” The Wall Street Journal called it “an engaging, concise history of American voting practices,” and the Miami Herald described it as “an important history in an election year.” The Fight to Vote was a Washington Post notable nonfiction book for 2016 and a History Book Club main selection.
Waldman is also the author of The Second Amendment: A Biography (Simon & Schuster, 2014). Publishers Weekly called it “the best narrative of its subject.” In the New York Times, Joe Nocera called it “rigorous, scholarly, but accessible.” The Los Angeles Times wrote, “[Waldman’s] calm tone and habit of taking the long view offers a refreshing tonic in this most loaded of debates.” In a Cardozo Law Review symposium devoted to the book, a historian wrote, “The Second Amendment is, without doubt, among the best efforts at melding constitutional history and constitutional law on any topic — at least since the modern revival of originalism two generations ago.”
His previous books are My Fellow Americans: The Most Important Speeches of America’s Presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama (2003, 2010), A Return to Common Sense (2007), POTUS Speaks (2000), and Who Robbed America? A Citizen’s Guide to the S&L Scandal (1990).
His frequent appearances on television and radio to discuss policy, the presidency, and the law include Good Morning America, the Colbert Report, Morning Joe, PBS NewsHour, CBS Evening News, Meet the Press Daily, All In with Chris Hayes, the O’Reilly Factor, Nightline, 60 Minutes, Tavis Smiley, Hardball with Chris Matthews, and the Rachel Maddow Show, as well as NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Fresh Air. He writes for the New York Times, Politico, the Washington Post, the Daily Beast, Slate, Democracy, Reuters, Bloomberg, and other national publications.
He is a graduate of Columbia College and NYU School of Law.