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Trump administration is radicalizing Democratic voters, creating a challenge for the party, Rep. Adam Schiff says

 (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)
(Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

As protests spread over policy announcements from the Trump administration, Democrats must work to encourage participation in politics, but face a danger of the party becoming too radicalized, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) said Tuesday.

“The radical nature of this government is radicalizing Democrats, and that’s going to pose a real challenge to the Democratic Party, which is to draw on the energy and the activism and the passion that is out there, but not let it turn us into what we despised about the tea party," Schiff said.

During a meeting with reporters and editors in the Los Angeles Times'  Washington bureau, Schiff also discussed his role as the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Select Intelligence Committee under a Trump administration and how Democrats will manage in the minority.

Ever since the election, party leaders have been debating: "Did we lose because we were too far to the left and we had too small a tent, or did we lose because we are too mainstream and didn’t energize the base?" Schiff asked.

"We are obviously having that debate, but there’s a whole new element, which is the reaction to the Trump administration that makes this different in kind, certainly different in intensity, than I think we’ve ever seen after an election,” he said.

“The more radical the administration is, the more radicalized our base becomes, which just feeds the Breitbart crowd, and who knows where that ends.”

Democratic leaders have to channel public reaction to Trump's actions into progress, rather than deadlock, Schiff said.

Reaction to Democrats seen as working with the Trump administration has been strong. Monday night, for example, protesters marched on Sen. Dianne Feinstein's home and office voicing fears she would back Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general. The senator from California announced Tuesday that she would oppose Sessions.

Several groups calling themselves "indivisible" have popped up in cities across the country as focal points for efforts to organize.

“We have two of the most capable strategists as the head of our House and Senate Democrats," Schiff added, referring to House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Senate Democratic leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York.

"If anybody can grapple with this, they can, but it’s going to be a challenging and moving target day to day."

"I just hope that we can channel that energy in a way where we can provide a check on this administration because I’ve never been more worried about the country’s future than I am right now," he said.

Schiff said part of his role as the ranking Democrat on the House Select Intelligence Committee will be pushing back when the Trump administration puts out inaccurate information about the intelligence community and its findings.

Trump has repeatedly dismissed or sought to minimize the intelligence community's findings that Russia sought to intervene in the 2016 election to benefit him . Schiff said he’s concerned about what else the administration might be willing to dismiss.

“I think that will be kind of a new frontier,” he said. “How do we contradict a president making representations about what the intelligence community has to say when the information is classified?”

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