Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, January 24, 2020
Democrat spokesperson in the party and their media celebrated the opening statement of Rep. Adam Schiff at the Senate impeachment trial.
One CNN analyst called Schiff “dazzling.” A Washington Post reporter tweeted that the Democrat’s trial argument to convict President Donald Trump was one for the ages.
For those still tethered to reality, it was a different story, an analyst wrote.
Schiff, the House’s lead impeachment manager, spewed “a trail of inaccuracies, conspiracy theories and attempts at obstruction, the record shows,” Rowan Scarborough wrote in a Jan. 23 analysis for The Washington Times.
As the Left heaped praise on a guy who wholeheartedly embraced the bogus anti-Trump dossier, conservatives on social media were asking “why a congressman who floated unproven conspiracies is leading the case against Trump,” Scarborough wrote.
Flashback: On Jan. 10, 2017, BuzzFeed posted the Christopher Steele dossier, which made a dozen felony charges against Trump and his allies. A month later, The New York Times reported that the intelligence community owned a year’s worth of phone records and intercepts between the Trump campaign and Kremlin intelligence.
The dossier allegations and Times story were both false.
In February 2017, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence convened the first major hearing into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election by computer hacking and social media warfare. A key question was whether the Trump campaign was a witting ally.
“It was in that media glare that Schiff began making a series of conspiracy claims as he sat on a committee that is supposed to deal in facts,” Scarborough noted. “At the witness table were FBI Director James Comey and Navy Adm. Michael Rogers, head of the electronic-listening National Security Agency.
“Schiff immediately endorsed the 35-page dossier and praised its author, former British intelligence officer Steele. At the hearing, the congressman read from Steele’s reporting, which stated that his allegations wholly came from Kremlin intelligence figures. This meant Schiff was injecting a list of Moscow assertions into the American political system as he was investigating Russia’s interference in the election.”
In his effort to bolster Steele’s credibility, Schiff said the following about Trump campaign associate Carter Page and Russian oil giant Rosneft: “Is it a coincidence that the Russian gas company Rosneft sold a 19 percent share after former British intelligence officer Steele was told by Russian sources that Carter Page was offered fees on a deal of just that size?”
Scarborough noted: “The only coincidence was that the 19 percent figure was in the press weeks before Steele wrote his memo.”
Schiff also quoted Steele on a purported conspiracy between campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Page. Schiff said: “According to Steele, it was Manafort who chose Page to serve as a go-between for the Trump campaign and Russian interests.”
Independent evidence shows Manafort and Page never knew or spoke with each other.
Even after the dossier was widely exposed as bogus, Schiff continued to stand by Steele and his dossier.
“So I think this is a bit of an effort to discredit Christopher Steele, discredit the dossier, ignore how much of it has been corroborated already and ignore the fact that the intelligence community is operating from a broad array of sources as a way of basically calling this all a hoax. And it just doesn’t add up to me,” Schiff said on CNN.
Scarborough noted that the dossier disclosure “was not the only time Schiff welcomed Kremlin claims into the political process. He also sought naked photos of Trump from Moscow via a politician in Ukraine.”
Schiff fell for a prank by two Russian comedians, one of whom posed as a Ukrainian official. During a lengthy phone call, Schiff eagerly questioned the impostors on the types of compromising photos he could obtain, according to a recording posted online.
Later, a top Schiff aide reached out to the Russian and asked whether the material was being delivered to the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington.
“Schiff said several times that he had seen evidence of Trump-Russia collusion to interfere in the election and it was beyond circumstantial,” Scarborough wrote. “He began this talking point in March 2017.”
“I can tell you that the case is more than that,” Schiff said on MSNBC. “And I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller said in his March 2019 report that he did not find a Trump election conspiracy. No Trump associate was charged in such a conspiracy.
Scarborough noted that “as the dossier’s credibility began to fall apart in 2017, Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and then-chairman of the House intelligence committee, began an attempt to find out who financed Steele’s work and to answer this question: Did the FBI use the dossier to obtain a judge’s permission to place a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act wiretap on Mr. Page?”
Schiff, who voted to impeach Trump for not turning over documents, “opposed Nunes on both fronts,” Scarborough noted. “He fought Nunes’ bank subpoenas, which forced Democrats to acknowledge in October 2017 that the Hillary Clinton campaign funded the dossier through opposition research firm Fusion GPS and co-founder Glenn Simpson.”
Nunes told Fox News in November 2017: “What I do not know is: Did the FBI or DOJ use this dossier that was funded by the Democratic Party and the Hillary campaign to open up investigations into political campaigns or American citizens.”
Scarborough noted that “Schiff opposed that effort, too. He implied that forcing the FBI to disclose how it used the dossier could lead to terrorist attacks.”
Schiff told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow: “The real damage they have done is they have damaged the relationship between our committee and the intelligence community in the future. They are going to be wary about sharing information [because] they won’t trust us to be responsible stewards of it.”
After Nunes issued a memo in 2018 disclosing FISA abuses, Schiff issued a countermemo “that proved off-base on several points,” Scarborough noted.
Schiff titled his Jan. 29, 2018, countermemo “Correcting the Record — The Russia Investigation.”
“FBI and DOJ officials did not ‘abuse’ the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign,” Schiff said.
In fact, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s Dec. 9 report found that the FBI did abuse FISA. He found 17 instances in which agents submitted inaccurate information to the judge or omitted exculpatory statements about Page.
Horowitz said the warrant could not have been submitted without the Democratic Party-financed dossier. There was no other evidence of a conspiracy.
Schiff said in his countermemo: “In subsequent FISA renewals, DOJ provided additional information obtained through multiple independent sources that corroborated Steele’s reporting.”
Not true, said Horowitz. None of Steele’s reporting in the warrant was ever corroborated. In fact, FBI agents acquired evidence from Steele’s main source, who placed great doubt in Steele’s allegations. But the FBI left this evidence out of subsequent warrant renewals.
Schiff said in his countermemo: “The FBI and, subsequently, the Special Counsel’s investigation into links between the Russian government and Trump campaign associates has been based on troubling law enforcement and intelligence information unrelated to the ‘dossier.’”
In fact, there is no indication in the Mueller or Horowitz reports that agents found evidence — texts, emails, communication intercepts, informants or whistleblowers — that provided proof of a conspiracy outside of the dossier.
Jack Langer, Nunes’ spokesman, looked back on the Schiff battles and told The Washington Times:
“Schiff was not only spectacularly wrong about FISA abuse and about Trump-Russian collusion, he tried to obstruct our investigation of these issues. He encouraged the agencies we oversee not to comply with our document requests, and he denounced our subpoena for Fusion GPS’s bank records that outed the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC as funders of the Steele dossier, which Schiff was touting. The media is already trying to memory hole all of that.”
Scarborough noted that Schiff also “implied several times that Donald Trump Jr. received a phone call from his father after meeting with a Russian lawyer who was involved in business dealings with Fusion GPS. President Trump always said he was not aware of the 15-minute session at Trump Tower in June 2016.”
Schiff said Democrats repeatedly tried to get phone records from the president’s son but Nunes would not issue a subpoena.
After Democrats gained control of the House in 2018 and Schiff was in line to become committee chairman, he accused Nunes of the “clearest example” of obstruction.
“Republicans refused to look at the phone records so that we could find out [who the caller was] because they were afraid of what the answer might be,” Schiff told USA Today.
In January 2019, CNN and ABC News reported that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had obtained the phone records. All of Donald Trump Jr.’s calls before and on that day to “blocked” numbers were with business associates.
In 2017 and 2018, committee Republicans said that Schiff’s side leaked a number of bogus stories, such as Russian Facebook ads in Wisconsin and Michigan, and Donald Trump Jr.’s communication with WikiLeaks.
Upon taking control of the intelligence committee, Schiff announced in February 2019 a broad investigation into Trump and his family business. Among new allegations, he said Trump was involved in money laundering with Russians.
“During the prior Congress, the Committee began to pursue credible reports of money laundering and financial compromise related to the business interests of President Trump, his family, and his associates,” Schiff said.
Schiff said he planned to look into the “extent of any links and/or coordination between the Russian government, or related foreign actors, and individuals associated with Donald Trump’s campaign, transition, administration, or business interests, in furtherance of the Russian government’s interests.”
Scarborough noted that “by the time Schiff wrote this anti-Trump agenda, Mueller had completed his investigation and found no election conspiracy. There is no hint in his report of money laundering.”
Republicans say Schiff’s most egregious falsehood was at a Sept. 26 House hearing on the release of the Ukraine whistleblower report and a White House transcript of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Schiff told the public that Trump asked Zelensky to “make up dirt” on Joe Biden.
When Republicans reread the transcript and challenged Schiff, he admitted he had made up the quotes as “parody.”
But later on Twitter, Schiff claimed his allegation had been confirmed.
“Schiff’s words were not in the call transcript or whistleblower complaint against Trump, and they have not materialized since,” Scarborough noted.