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California To Play Pivotal Role In Impeachment Probe

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From Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy, Californians on both sides of the political aisle are becoming the public faces of the impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Some members of the house intelligence committee are working through the congressional recess. Depositions are scheduled this week of key figures in the impeachment investigation. But while all this activity is underway in Washington, one glaring feature of the investigation has not been widely reported. And that is the number of Californians who are a leading figures on both sides of the impeachment drama. Joining me is Los Angeles times congressional reporter is Sara wire with a focus on the California legislators in the impeachment spotlight. And Sarah, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. Can you start out by telling us about the California Democrats who are taking a high profile role in this impeachment? California always plays such an interesting [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 00:45 on any issue in Washington. Uh, part of it's because it is such a mammoth delegation, uh, but specifically when it comes to impeachment, this is going to be particularly important. You've got, uh, not only the, the house speaker Nancy Pelosi, but you've got intelligence committee chairman, Adam Schiff of Burbank, who are really going to be the, the lead public faces of the impeachment inquiry.

Speaker 1: 01:11 And you have a couple of Californians on that intelligence committee as well.

Speaker 2: 01:16 You're correct that Adam Schiff's can be backed up by a, um, Eric Swalwell of Dublin and Jackie spear of Hillsboro. They're both attorneys, both lawyers, uh, who have a long background on the intelligence committee. And so it really kind of represents the, the well of support that, uh, blowsy and shift both are going to be able to pull from when it comes to the investigation.

Speaker 1: 01:42 Does the fact that high profile Democrats from California are becoming the face of the impeachment inquiry help or hurt the push for impeachment as they try to make that case to the American people?

Speaker 2: 01:54 I think it's already pretty well known how the president feels about California members of Congress. So I'm not sure that it's going to be a detriment or a help to be honest. I think California has long represented this idea of a resistance to the actions of the Trump administration. I believe the attorney general just followed his, filed his 62nd lawsuit against the administration. Um, and the president's relationship with Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff has is a well known, well documented and often very public. He's been sticking with the nickname little Adam Schiff now for a little while on Twitter.

Speaker 1: 02:33 And you talk about this very large California congressional delegation. And in your report there's a statistic about how much of the entire Congress is actually made up of Californians. It is

Speaker 2: 02:46 one in five Democrats in Congress are from California. I don't think a lot of Californians fully grasp how influential their delegation here is in Washington.

Speaker 1: 02:57 Now as you write in your story, there are Republicans on the other side of the political aisle who are from California who are siding with the president and pushing back. Tell us about them.

Speaker 2: 03:07 Well, not only is there Devin Nunez of delay from a, who is the ranking Republican on the committee and is going to be facing off daily with Adam chef. You have Kevin McCarthy, the house minority leader, and he's really been the face of a Republican support for the president so far. He's come out and done interviews in support of him. He's, you're likely gonna see him sticking up for president Trump very publicly in response to Nancy Pelosi.

Speaker 1: 03:36 And in your report you expect some real tension and maybe even high drama from Californians, Adam Schiff and Devin Nunez, both on the intelligence committee.

Speaker 2: 03:45 It's interesting. The two of them have had a long relationship and uh, before the president was sworn in, it was a very cordial relationship. They like to watch the Oakland Raiders talk about the Oakland Raiders together. But, uh, that relationship has really gone downhill in the last three years. And while they've, they've managed to not have some of the fireworks that we've seen on other congressional committees, there is only the chance that it's such a high stakes issue. Could finally push that over the limit or over the line.

Speaker 1: 04:20 Well, as we said, Adam Schiff is the head of the house intelligence committee. He will be, in essence, the face of this impeachment inquiry. How much of an impact will, the way these hearings are conducted have on public opinion do you think?

Speaker 2: 04:34 I think there is a real chance that these hearings could be seen as partisan because, and inherently impeachment always comes across as partisan. If they are conducted in a way that is steady and doesn't seem to be overly partisan. It doesn't seem to be too fractious. I think it goes a long way to letting lending credibility to the impeachment effort.

Speaker 1: 04:59 You know, we keep hearing that California because it is so reliably democratic, won't have a kind of pivotal impact on the 2020 presidential election. So when I was reading your report, it's kind of ironic, isn't it, that California lawmakers are having such an impact on impeachment?

Speaker 2: 05:18 Yes. It really, and that's, that goes back to the fact that the California delegation is so large and they're also placed in so many positions of power and you have the speaker and the minority leader. She also have the chairs or ranking members of handful of committees. You've got more than a dozen subcommittee chairman. You really can't do much in Congress without touching on a California. As you continue to follow the impeachment inquiry in the house, what will you continue to watch? For Sarah, I'm going to be watching for specifically what we see out of Adam Schiff. Um, and some of the other key in the California delegation. People like, uh, Los Angeles representative Ted loom on the judiciary committee or Karen Bass. I'm gonna know where they're going to all play important roles when it comes to deciding whether to pursue articles of impeachment. I'm also going to be watching the seven Republican members of the California delegation to see if any of them distance themselves in any way from the president. We haven't seen that so far, and I'm not necessarily expecting it to happen, but I think in general watching to see if any Republicans start to make those, that space. I'd been speaking with Los Angeles times, congressional reporter, Sarah wire, and Sarah, thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 3: 06:46 [inaudible].

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.