A Republican lawmaker is calling on the Democratic-run House to condemn Rep. Adam Schiff for making up damaging quotes about President Trump at a hearing on an anti-Trump whistleblower complaint.
Noting impeachment of a president is a stake, Rep. Andy Biggs, Arizona Republican, said, “It is therefore inexcusable to toy with the process and mislead the American public with such a statement.”
Mr. Schiff, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, opened the Thursday hearing by quoting from a just-released transcript of Mr. Trump’s White House phone call in July with newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Mr. Schiff, California Democrat, fabricated quotes by saying Mr. Trump threatened to tell Mr. Zelensky “seven more times” and you “better listen good” on helping an election investigation. And Mr. Schiff said the president pressed Mr. Zelensky to “make up dirt” on former Vice President Joe Biden, who is a Democratic presidential nominee and potential Trump foe.
Neither of those remarks is contained in the transcription.
Later, after Rep. Mike Turner, Ohio Republican, compared the transcript to Mr. Schiff’s remarks, Mr. Turner said, “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.”
Mr. Schiff responded by agreeing with Mr. Turner, defending the reading as “parody.”
Republicans say Mr. Schiff, who is seeking impeachment, deliberately put false words in Mr. Trump’s mouth to influence the likely large televised audience watching the testimony of Acting National Intelligence Director Joseph Maguire.
The unidentified whistleblower is an intelligence community analyst who accuses Mr. Trump of wrongdoing by pressing Mr. Zelensky to cooperate in an investigation of the 2016 election and Mr. Biden, whose son, Hunter, won a lucrative board sit on a Ukraine natural gas company.
Mr. Bigg’s censure resolution reads in part:
“Whereas, instead of quoting directly from the available transcript, Chairman Schiff manufactured a false retelling of the conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky;
Whereas, this egregiously false and fabricated retelling had no relationship to the call itself;
Whereas, these actions of Chairman Schiff misled the American people, bring disrepute upon the House of Representatives, and make a mockery of the impeachment process, one of this chamber’s most solemn constitutional duties.”
Since Democrats control the House floor agenda, it is doubtful they would allow a vote on the censure bill.
During his opening remarks on Thursday, 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.”
Later, Mr. Schiff’s explanation of his remarks began to shift.
He called it “parody” at the hearing.
Friday morning, Mr. Trump attacked him on Twitter:
“Rep. Adam Schiff totally made up my conversation with Ukraine President and read it to Congress and Millions. He must resign and be investigated. He has been doing this for two years. He is a sick man!”
Mr. Schiff then said on CNN that every one knew was doing a parody.
Later that night, Mr. Schiff dropped his “parody” defense and said on Twitter, “The whistleblower told us –– Trump pressured Ukraine to manufacture dirt on Biden. Confirmed.”
The tweet drops “Zelensky” from his quote and now says Trump pressured “Ukraine” to manufacture dirt.
A Washington Times examination of the Trump-Zelensky phone call transcript and the whistleblower’s nine-page complaint shows no reference to Mr. Trump asking Ukraine to fabricate dirt.
Republicans have repeatedly accused Mr. Schiff of dispensing bogus information publicly and through leaks during the Russia probe.
Mr. Schiff is a popular figure with the liberal news media.
He said several times he had seen secret evidence of a conspiracy but never produced it.
Mr. Schiff openly embraced the Democratic Party-financed dossier that was sourced to Kremlin intelligence. He read parts of it at a March 2017 hearing.
Dossier writer Christopher Steele, a former UK spy, accused Mr. Trump, among other charges, of being a Russian spy and of financing Moscow’s hacking of Democrat Party computers.
None of Mr. Steele’s conspiracy allegations proved true. The special counsel’s March report failed to establish there was a Trump-Russia conspiracy.