The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee believes President-elect Donald Trump is risking U.S. credibility around the globe by perpetuating evidence-free claims that "millions" of people voted illegally and by skipping intelligence briefings.
Trump, said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, is not "growing into the job."
"When you have a president-elect who sends out patently false information like the fact, or the allegation, that millions of people voted, millions of undocumented immigrants voted, that impugns the credibility of the president," added Schiff at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast Tuesday morning.
"At some point the president is going to need to be believed by the country," he added. "This is going to be a serious problem."
Trump won the Electoral College and therefore the White House, but Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton leads him in the popular vote by almost 3 million ballots. However, Trump claimed in a Nov. 27 tweet that "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," he would have won the popular vote for president.
Schiff sees the impulsiveness as part of a larger problem that has already seeped into Trump’s preliminary foreign policy forays, such as promising Pakistan’s prime minister that he would visit the country, or his phone call with Taiwan’s president. Both moves rattled long-time diplomats as they broke with recent tradition.
It’s unclear, Schiff said, whether these instances mark "a new direction of American policy or just an unwillingness to be briefed and a lack of sophistication."
And other countries need to know which it is, he stressed.
"These initial steps are already, I think, having consequences," he told reporters. "I think we’re already seeing seeing an attitude in other parts of the world that, ‘Well, we can’t really put much stock in what the American president-elect says.’"
Schiff predicted the trend would continue past the transition and "have some very serious consequences because our friends and our adversaries may not know that the president really means what he says."
The California Democrat also criticized the incoming commander in chief for shunning daily intelligence briefings, saying the avoidance "tells me that this is either not a priority of his or simply will not be the governing style of the president-elect — to be well-prepared prior to meetings, prior to phone calls, prior to issuing statements."
Trump "evidently has time to do triumphant rallies with supporters but not time to [be] briefed about some of the most pressing national security and foreign policy issues," Schiff argued, referring to the Republican’s on-going "Thank You" tour in states that he won.
"It tells me that we’re going to have a different kind of White House, a very different kind of a president, than the one that’s in the White House now," he added.
"I think that has grave implications."