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During his grudge-airing, redemption-seeking spectacle on Wednesday, Michael Cohen admitted he was in cahoots with Democratic lawmakers prior to giving his congressional testimony.
“We spoke with Chairman [Elijah] Cummings and the [Democratic] Party,” Trump’s former lawyer confessed to Representative Jody Hice (R-Ga.). “We spoke with Chairman [Adam] Schiff and his people as well.”
Under further questioning by Rep. James Jordan (R-Ohio), Cohen acknowledged he “spoke to Mr. Schiff about topics that were going to be raised at the upcoming hearing.” Jordan clarified that rather than simply discuss the logistics of the hearing, Schiff coached the witness on “what [he was] going to talk about.”
It wasn’t the only attempt by Schiff to influence Cohen’s testimony: In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” last Sunday, the Southern California congressman signaled that he expected Cohen to disclose information about alleged crimes committed by the president, including money-laundering and obstruction of justice.
It all amounted to the latest ethical misstep by the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee; unfortunately, none of Schiff’s bad behavior has caught the attention either of the media or congressional watchdogs. Unlike his predecessor, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who was subjected to a fruitless, eight-month House Ethics Committee investigation in 2017, Schiff continues to escape scrutiny for lying to Congress, misleading the public about imaginary crimes related to Russian collusion, and now, witness-tampering.
A Big Talker
Two years ago this month, Schiff announced that he had “more than circumstantial evidence” to prove Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and perhaps the president himself, had colluded with the Russians to influence the election. “I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial, and is very much worthy of investigation,” Schiff told a shocked Chuck Todd on March 22, 2017.
It was the first time a Democratic leader had made such an accusation and it immediately conferred legitimacy to the collusion ruse.
“He is both the ranking member on the intelligence committee, and is also not seen as the type of politician prone to hyperbole,” wrote David Graham at The Atlantic. “He is also a former federal prosecutor. The top Republican and Democrat on the committee investigating Russian collusion have erupted into a round of bitter recriminations. One of them is almost certainly overplaying his hand. Which man that is remains to be seen.”
We now know which one was overplaying his hand: Schiff. Two years later, despite Schiff’s repeated warnings, there is no solid evidence to substantiate his claims.
The nine-term congressman catapulted from obscurity to fame based on the still unproven claim of Trump-Russia collusion. He has conducted countless interviews where he’s made baseless and inflammatory accusations about the president, his family members, and his associates. While he’s become a darling of #TheResistance—HBO’s Bill Maher called him a “liberal icon” during a 2017 interview—Schiff continues to inflame the public discourse as he seeks to destroy the Trump presidency.
He has insisted, without evidence, that the president is somehow “compromised” by the Russians; Schiff is fixated on taking down Donald Trump, Jr. and alleges that a brief June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower between Russian lobbyists (we’ve since learned are tied to Fusion GPS chief Glenn Simpson) and the Trump campaign team, including Don Jr., is evidence of a criminal conspiracy. The president’s son suspects that Schiff leaked to the press details about his closed-door testimony in December 2017, which led to an embarrassing fake news story at CNN that cited the wrong date on an email that Don Jr. submitted to the committee.
House Republicans also suspect that Schiff and his staff have disclosed other classified or unauthorized information to the press in “serious violation of committee and House rules,” wrote Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) in December 2017.
Schiff has smeared his predecessor relentlessly ever since Nunes first exposed the origins of the so-called FISAgate scandal; Schiff attempted to block the release of Nunes’s explosive February 2018 memo that outlined how the Obama Justice Department misled a secret court to obtain an order to spy on a Trump campaign aide. Calling the memo a “corruption of the process,” Schiff demanded that Nunes permanently step aside as chairman of the committee. (Nunes had voluntarily stepped aside during the 2017 House ethics investigation that resulted in no charges.)
In response, Schiff filed a memo of his own that defended the Justice Department’s actions and called the Nunes memo a “transparent effort to undermine” the DOJ, the FBI, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
But new evidence now contradicts much of what Schiff claimed in his counter-memo, including a crucial timeline of contacts between the Justice Department and dossier author Christopher Steele, yet he has not corrected the record. Schiff’s failure to correct this record amounts to lying to Congress—his counter-memo was addressed to all members of the House of Representatives—as well as misleading Americans since the memo is a public record. Further, it’s now evident that the Nunes memo is accurate and that Schiff engaged in a deceitful campaign against his colleague in order to discredit and derail a crucial congressional investigation. How was that not an attempt by Schiff to obstruct justice?
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also has expressed alarm at the recent news that Schiff met with Fusion GPS owner Glenn Simpson last summer. Fusion GPS was hired by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 to dig up Russia-related dirt on candidate Trump; this led to the production of the infamous Steele dossier, the catalyst for the collusion ruse. Simpson is under investigation for his role and has testified to Congress twice, including last October.
Republicans in both the House and Senate should push for an ethics probe into Schiff; Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Ethics Committee, should urge the chairman of that committee immediately to investigate Schiff for witness-tampering, obstruction of justice, illegal leaks of nonpublic information and misleading Congress among other acts of malfeasance. As Schiff now promises to continue an unending stream of investigations into the president, it’s past time for him to be held accountable for his own misconduct instead.
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