- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 21, 2019

Democrats have portrayed Ukraine as innocent of 2016 election interference but the lawmaker spearheading impeachment saw Kyiv as a source for dirt on President Trump in 2017.

Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, was pranked by two Russian comedians who promised naked photos during an 8-minute phone call.

Vladmire Kuzetsov and Alexei Stolyarov convinced him he was talking to the chairman of the Ukraine parliament, Andriy Parubiy, who could obtain compromising photos from Russian intelligence.

Mr. Schiff, then committee ranking Democrat, had become a fan of the Democratic Party-financed dossier that claimed Mr. Trump frolicked with prostitutes in Moscow in 2013.

“I would caution that our Russian friends may be listening to the conversation so I wouldn’t share anything over the phone that you wouldn’t want them to hear,” Mr. Schiff says on a recording posted on YouTube and other sites.

“Ok,” Mr. Schiff says, “and what’s the nature of the kompromat,” using the Russian word for blackmail materials.

The comedian replies, “Well, there were pictures of naked Trump.”

“Obviously we would welcome the chance to get copies,” Mr. Schiff says. “I’ll be in touch with the FBI about this. And we’ll make arrangements with your staff. I think it probably would be best to provide these materials both to our committee and to the FBI.”

Evidence that Mr. Schiff took the offer seriously is contained in a followup email from a aide, Deputy Director of Investigations Rheanne Wirkkala.

She sent an email, obtained by the Daily Mail, to whom she thought was a Ukraine aide, saying, “I understand Mr. Schiff had a productive call with Mr. Parubiy, and that Mr. Parubiy would like to make some material available to Mr. Schiff through your embassy.”

“Please let me know how best to arrange pick-up of those materials from your Embassy in Washington, D.C.,” the email continued.

Republicans say Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election on the side of Hillary Clinton. They point to, among other items, the infamous “black ledger.”

Leaked to the press, it showed illegal cash payments from a Ukraine political party to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. He denied the payments existed and his lawyer suggests the ledger was concocted inside Ukraine.

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