He helped conceive a hoax so outlandish that only the most gullible, craven, or witless person could believe it.
The attack, as he called it, allegedly was executed by mysterious and politically motivated thugs with the intent to inflict harm. It exploited the political climate of the moment given that the chief goal of the ruse—and of the perpetrator himself—was to sow division in an already-fractured American populace for his own gratification. Nonstop news coverage and social media chatter ensued. The heretofore obscure perpetrator gained instant fame.
Lawmakers, journalists, and celebrities acted as accomplices, allowing themselves to be duped and conferring immediate legitimacy to the event. Public resources were diverted away from more serious matters. Whenever fair-minded observers voiced skepticism about the questionable nature of the circumstances and evidence at hand, they were riddled with insults.
As authorities began to expose the hoax, the mastermind lashed out, blasting his detractors and making incendiary accusations.
The public mostly went along with it because it sounded right or, at least, familiar like the narrative that Donald Trump and his people ultimately are at the center of everything wrong with our country today. And astoundingly, even as his story fell apart and his early supporters tried to distance themselves from the ruse, the hoaxster remained entrenched, beclowning himself and those who aided the scam.
No, I am not talking here about Jussie Smollett, the “Empire” actor who concocted an elaborate story about how MAGA-hat wearing hoodlums attacked him in the middle of a frigid night on an underground street in downtown Chicago.
I am talking about Representative Adam Schiff, the California congressman who helped make up a story about how Donald Trump and his campaign associates conspired with the Kremlin to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Adam Schiff was Jussie Smollett before Jussie Smollett arrived on the scene. Few Americans had heard of Schiff before he earned notoriety by planting a false flag on the nation’s smoldering political landscape in 2016. And it’s not hard to draw a line between the hoax that Schiff perpetuated on the American public and the hoax that Smollett conceived and executed last month. In fact, Schiff tweeted his sympathies to the actor shortly after the “horrific attack,” as he called it, and signaled his rejection of this “act of hatred and bigotry.”
Schiff has been in on the phony Trump-Russia collusion ruse since the beginning. As the narrative first took shape during the Democratic National Convention in the final week of July 2016—while party leaders desperately scrambled to mitigate the fallout of hacked emails showing a rigged system designed to help boost Hillary Clinton over Senator Bernie Sanders—Schiff skillfully helped to change the subject to Russia.
Schiff and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), his counterpart on the Senate Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to President Obama, which began to seed the collusion story at the government’s highest levels: “The email dissemination was clearly intended to undermine the Democratic Party and the presidential campaign of Secretary Hillary Clinton, and disrupt the Democratic Party’s convention in Philadelphia,” they wrote on July 26, 2016.
From that point forward, Schiff weaseled his way onto the public stage and became the media’s go-to mouthpiece for yarns about Trump-Russia election collusion. A few weeks later, on August 12, Schiff appeared on CNN and claimed that the Russians “certainly have a very strong interest in seeing Donald Trump be the next president, given all the admiring statements he’s made of Putin.”
After the election, Schiff, with the help of corrupt law enforcement officials and partisans on both sides who were traumatized by Trump’s victory, expanded his con job by insisting the new president won because he was in cahoots with Vladimir Putin.
Between January 2017 and February 2018, according to one analysis, Schiff appeared in 227 news interviews to peddle his phony story. Much like Smollett, Schiff was portrayed in glowing terms by a sympathetic media as an accidental hero. “Youthful, with a ruddy and cheerful visage, Schiff, 56, whose wife is actually named Eve, comes off like the guy who in high school talked to his prom date’s mother in the kitchen about the goings-on at the community garden,” gushed a New York Times reporter in March 2017.
The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee demanded a congressional investigation into alleged collusion; suggested that communications between the Russian ambassador and then National Security Advisor Michael Flynn were illegal; and remains weirdly fixated on taking down Donald Trump, Jr. on the basis of a brief meeting the president’s son had with Russian lobbyists at Trump Tower a few months before the election.
Schiff has made unsubstantiated and vindictive remarks about his colleague, Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who served as the intelligence committee’s chairman for two years and first uncovered how the Obama Justice Department used political opposition research as justification to spy on the Trump campaign and derail his presidency. As Nunes closed in on the real scandal, subsequently exposing Schiff’s hoax, Schiff demanded that he step down as chairman of the committee.
Desperate for any crumb that would validate his story, Schiff even engaged pranksters who told him that Putin was blackmailing Trump with nude photos.
Even now, as his collusion story unravels, Schiff continues trying to convince people that his skullduggery is valorous. He imagines what no one except the most self-deluded sucker still insists is true: “You see evidence in plain sight on the issue of collusion and pretty compelling evidence,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash last week. He blathered on again about emails to Don Jr. in the summer of 2016, and Flynn’s post-election conversations with the Russian ambassador as the “plain sight” evidence.
But some of Schiff’s colleagues now are raising questions about Schiff’s own misconduct. Dare we call it collusion? House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has posed several questions about Schiff’s relationship with Glenn Simpson—the owner of Fusion GPS, the firm that produced the infamous Steele dossier—after it was recently revealed that Schiff and Simpson were seen in public together last summer. McCarthy further suggested Schiff should step down as House Intelligence Committee chairman based on his various conflicts.
Which leads to the one glaring difference between Schiff and Smollett as of now: One hoaxster is under investigation and likely will be charged for filing a false police report, among other crimes.
But another hoaxster continues to appear on cable news and in newspaper articles as a reliable source while threatening to launch even more tax-funded investigations into the president, his family, and his business interests, even after Schiff has lied to Congress and misled the public—offenses that have led to the persecution and prosecution of Trump associates.
Unlike the orchestrated smear of his predecessor, not one Democrat or political pundit has called for Schiff to recuse himself or demand an investigation into his misdeeds. Schiff is not facing a House Ethics Committee probe into whether he leaked confidential information: Similar yet unfounded allegations shamefully resulted in bipartisan support for an ethics inquiry into Nunes during crucial months of 2017. (Nunes was cleared of any violations.)
Adam Schiff is the Jussie Smollett of the Trump-Russia hoax, but the consequences of Schiff’s con job are far more damaging, costly, and pernicious than Smollett’s. Whether Schiff ever is held accountable, by either his colleagues or the media, remains to be seen.
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