A new report from Politico suggests Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) “mischaracterized” evidence from the Democrats’ latest star witness in their attempt to oust President Donald Trump.
The House Intelligence Committee chairman was cavalier with the truth, at best, when he cited a text message from Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, to prove that the two men were part of a conspiracy led by Trump to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. But according to the Washington Examiner, Politico reported that the message Schiff cited was referring to Mykola Zlochevsky, the founder of Burisma Holdings — not Zelensky.
Lies and leakers
Parnas entered the media spotlight last week just as the Senate trial was getting underway when Democrats and the media capitalized on text and documents from the Giuliani associate, who accused Trump and his Cabinet of knowing about a conspiracy to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, in an attempt to ramp up pressure on Republicans to allow more witnesses.
In a letter to Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) summarizing the Parnas documents last week, Schiff, who is leading the Democrats’ prosecution of the case against Trump, claimed that Parnas “continued to try to arrange a meeting with President Zelensky,” according to the New York Post. Schiff cited as evidence a text that Parnas sent to Giuliani that, according to Fox News, read in part: “trying to get us mr Z.”
The rest of the text conversation was redacted at the time, but the since-unredacted material suggests that Parnas sent Giuliani notes from an interview with Zlochesvky, not Zelensky. The notes came alongside a message reading, “mr Z answers my brother,” Politico reported.
“The most charitable view of the situation is that [Schiff’s] staff committed the equivalent of [c]ongressional malpractice by not looking more than an inch deep to determine the facts before foisting this erroneous information on his colleagues and the American public,” a senior GOP aide told Politico.
Dems’ star witness
For their part, Republicans have slammed Democrats for trusting Parnas, who was indicted on campaign finance charges in October. It’s unclear if Democrats will seek to compel testimony from Parnas in the Senate trial, which is in full swing after a procedural fight Tuesday over the ground rules.
Schiff is continuing to lead the charge against Trump as an impeachment manager, essentially a prosecutor for the Democrats, after playing a controversial role in the House phase of the inquiry, which included Schiff reading aloud a made-up version of Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president. Republicans have also said that Schiff is a fact witness because of his staff’s contacts with the Ukraine whistleblower, which Schiff lied about on television last year, according to RealClearPolitics.
The Democrat has also come under fire for obtaining, then publishing, the phone logs of his Republican colleague Devin Nunes (CA) and others who spoke with Giuliani and Parnas. Schiff has maintained that he did not subpoena Nunes, but rather happened to obtain his phone records as a by-product of a legitimate inquiry into Giuliani.
Giuliani’s interest in Zlochesvky stems from President Trump’s desire to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine, where Hunter Biden received a lucrative position at energy company Burisma Holdings despite having no relevant experience. Republicans have long called for Hunter Biden to testify about his work at Burisma — and for Schiff to answer for his staff’s contacts with the whistleblower, and other lies — but it remains uncertain if witnesses will be called as Republicans have lined up behind Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) plans for a rapid trial.
A resolution that passed the Senate on Tuesday officially delays a vote on witnesses until the middle of the trial, after opening arguments, but it is possible that a handful of Republican senators will defect and help the Democrats pass the 51 vote threshold to call more witnesses. Republicans have increasingly threatened to call Hunter Biden if Democrats insist on calling more witnesses, but Schiff has dismissed the idea of having the former VP’s son testify, according to Axios — even as the congressman insists that the trial will be a sham without calling every witness the Democrats desire.
In an extraordinarily unhinged speech from the Senate floor Wednesday, Schiff continued to reference the Russia hoax that dominated American news coverage for the better part of two years after Trump’s inauguration. According to Fox, Schiff said in his opening statement Wednesday that it was necessary to give aid to Ukraine “so that we can fight Russia over there, and we don’t have to fight Russia here;” repeated the disproven claim that Russia helped Trump win the 2016 election; and perhaps most revealingly, insisted that voting is no remedy for Trump’s supposed crimes.
“The president’s misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box, for we cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won,” Schiff said.
Only time will tell if the California congressman and his Democrat colleagues get their way.