Before he came to Congress 18 years ago, Adam Schiff was a U.S. attorney who successfully prosecuted a Russian espionage case in front of a federal jury. He knows that territory well, he’s not easily intimidated, and he’s certainly not going to believe that a four-page summary of a suppressed 300-page report, a summary authored by a servile attorney general, magically washes away the stench of corruption.
Donald Trump and his toadies on the House Intelligence Committee have predictably launched a PR campaign of intimidation, demanding that Schiff quit his chairmanship and leave Congress — this is what authoritarians do; they try to purge their critics — but Schiff, who has long been tracking the Trump-Russia web, couldn’t care less. Yesterday, during a stirring patriotic soliloquy, he swatted them away with the weaponry of accumulated facts.
I’m going to quote most of his statement, because it’s a template for how Trump’s detractors (the majority of the electorate) should treat the forces of intimidation during these dark days. Anyone who’s tempted to be cowed by the Trumpists into believing that the Barr minimum of the Mueller report is somehow tantamount to total exoneration should watch Schiff deliver the goods with his low-key concision:
“My (Republican) colleagues might think it’s OK that the Russians offered dirt on the Democratic candidate for president as part of what’s described as the Russian government’s effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that’s OK.
“My colleagues might think it’s OK that when that was offered to the son of the president, who had a pivotal role in the campaign, that the president’s son did not call the FBI; he did not adamantly refuse that foreign help – no, instead that son said that he would ‘love’ the help with the Russians.
“You might think it’s OK that he took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that Paul Manafort, the campaign chair, someone with great experience running campaigns, also took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that the president’s son-in-law also took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that they concealed it from the public. You might think it’s OK that their only disappointment after that meeting was that the dirt they received on Hillary Clinton wasn’t better. You might think that’s OK.
“You might think it’s OK that when it was discovered, a year later, that they then lied about that meeting and said that it was about adoptions. You might think that it’s OK that it was reported that the president helped dictate that lie. You might think that’s OK. I don’t.
“You might think it’s OK that the campaign chairman of a presidential campaign would offer information about that campaign to a Russian oligarch in exchange for money or debt forgiveness. You might think that’s OK, I don’t.
“You might think it’s OK that that campaign chairman offered polling data to someone linked to Russian intelligence. I don’t think that’s OK.
“You might think it’s OK that the president himself called on Russia to hack his opponent’s emails, if they were listening. You might think it’s OK that later that day, in fact, the Russians attempted to hack a server affiliated with that campaign. I don’t think that’s OK.
“You might think it’s OK that the president’s son-in-law sought to establish a secret back channel of communication with the Russians through a Russian diplomatic facility. I don’t think that’s OK.
“You might think it’s OK that an associate of the president made direct contact with the GRU (Russian military intelligence) through Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks … You might think it’s OK that a senior campaign official was instructed to reach that associate and find out what that hostile intelligence agency had to say in terms of dirt on his opponent.
“You might think it’s OK that the national security adviser designate secretly conferred with the Russian ambassador about undermining U.S. sanctions, and you might think it’s OK that he lied about it to the FBI.
“You might say that’s all OK, that’s just what you need to do to win. But I don’t think it’s OK. I don’t think it’s OK. I think it’s immoral, I think it’s unethical, I think it’s unpatriotic and, yes, I think it’s corrupt – and evidence of collusion … I do not think that conduct, criminal or not, is OK. And the day we do think that’s OK is the day we will look back and say that is the day that America lost its way.
“And … I don’t think it’s OK that during a presidential campaign Mr. Trump sought the Kremlin’s help to consummate a real estate deal in Moscow that would make him a fortune – according to the special counsel, hundreds of millions of dollars. I don’t think it’s OK to conceal it from the public. I don’t think it’s OK that he advocated a new and more favorable policy towards the Russians even as he was seeking the Russians’ help, the Kremlin’s help to make money. I don’t think it’s OK that his attorney lied to our committee. There is a different word for that than collusion, and it’s called ‘compromise.’”
Not a single fact in Schiff’s recitation is in dispute. Not a single fact in his recitation was mentioned in Attorney General Bill Barr’s Cliff-Notes summary of the Mueller report. And fortunately, most Americans aren’t fooled by Trump’s noisome “total exoneration” propaganda; according to a newly released national poll, 56 percent (including 58 percent of independents) say that Trump and his team have not been exonerated of collusion, and 57 percent favor congressional hearings on the Mueller report. Another new poll says that 75 percent want the report to go public.
All the more reason why Adam Schiff will not oblige the Vladimir Putin abetters who are screaming for his head. Let that be a lesson, going forward, to all members of patriotic American majority.