Rep. Adam Schiff acknowledged on Thursday that he made up parts of the Ukraine phone call transcript when he delivered his opening statement at a much-watched TV hearing with the U.S. top intelligence officer.
Mr. Schiff, California Democrat and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said his reading was “part in parody”––but made the admission only after Rep. Mike Turner, Ohio Republican, called him out.
In his opening statement, Mr. Schiff said Mr. Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky for fabricated dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and said Mr. Trump threatened to make the same request Mr. Zelensky eight times–––both quotes not in the transcript.
When it came his time to question Joseph Maguire, the acting Director of National Intelligence, Mr. Turner noted inaccuracies uttered to a large TV audience as Democrats rev up talk of impeachment.
“It’s not the conversation that was in the chairman’s opening statement,” Mr. Turner said. “And while the chairman was speaking I actually had someone text me, ‘is he just making this up?’ And yes, yes, he was because sometimes fiction is better than the actual words or the text. But luckily, the American public are smart, and they have the transcript. They’ve read the conversation. They know when someone is just making it up.”
When Mr. Turner concluded, Mr. Schiff said:
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“I want to mention that my colleague is right on both counts. It’s not okay, but also my summary of the president’s call was meant to be at least part in parody. The fact that that’s not clear is a separate problem in and of itself. Of course the president never said, ‘If you don’t understand me, I’m going to say it seven more times.’ My point is, that’s the message that the Ukraine president was receiving in not so many words.”
The issue has to do with how many times Mr. Trump ask the Ukraine president to contact Attorney General William Barr about the role of former Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter, in Ukraine politics and business. A Wall Street Journal story said Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Zelensky eight times, which is not born out in the transcript.
Mr. Schiff also said in his opening statement that Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zelensky to “make up dirt” on Mr. Biden––again something the president didn’t say in the 30-minute phone call in July.
Mr. Schiff said the transcript, “reads like a classic organized crime shakedown. Shorn of its rambling character and in not so many words, this is the essence of what the president communicates. We’ve been very good to your country, very good. No other country has done as much as we have, but you know what, I don’t see much reciprocity here. I hear what you want. I have a favor I want from you, though. And I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent understand the loss of it on this and on that.”
Republicans earlier this year asked Mr. Schiff to resign, accusing him of putting out falsehoods about the Russia investigation.