Remember, folks: Asking Ukrainians for any sort of help investigating someone who happens to be your political rival is unacceptable, quid pro quo or not.
Unless you’re a Democrat, that is. Then it’s OK.
If it isn’t, how is Rep. Adam Schiff still the head of the House Intelligence Committee? After all, the California Democrat had been fooled by prank callers who claimed they were a Ukrainian bigwig possessed of some dirt on President Donald Trump.
According to Fox News, the January 2018 call featured Russian shock-jocks posing as the former speaker of Ukrainian parliament Andriy Parubiy. I suppose that’s just slightly more intelligent than what you’ll see on Howard Stern, but that’s not really the point.
The takeaway is that Schiff — who’s now resolutely attempting to move the impeachment inquiry over the Ukraine call through Congress in as expedited a manner as possible — is perfectly willing to get information on his political opponents from foreign sources.
“The Russian radio hosts, Vladimir ‘Vovan’ Kuznetzov and Alexey ‘Lexus’ Stolyarov, who have close ties to the Kremlin, told Schiff that the Kremlin had naked photos of Trump and that ‘Parubiy’ could provide audio of [Russian journalist Ksenia] Sobchak and [Russian model and singer Olga] Buzova discussing the photos,” Fox News reported.
“They also told Schiff that former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn had met with another Russian to talk about how to prevent the photos from going public.”
Schiff claims he knew it was a prank, although that explanation doesn’t seem to be borne out by his actions.
“So, you have recordings of both [Russian journalist Ksenia] Sobchak and [Russian model and singer Olga] Buzova where they’re discussing the compromising material on Mr. Trump?” Schiff said to “Parubiy.”
“Absolutely,” replied Kuznetzov, who was posing as Parubiy.
“Well, obviously we would welcome a chance to get copies of those recordings,” Schiff said.
Instead, we have a copy of this phone recording, which GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida decided to remind us of:
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) September 29, 2019
As it turns out, Schiff — then just the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee — was more than willing to talk about the details of the alleged recording.
The California Democrat seems to think that the mere act of asking for dirt on your political opponents from a foreign power is evidence of malfeasance: “What we have seen in that call record is a president of the United States use the full weight of his office … to manufacture dirt on his opponent and interfere in our election.”
There are a few things we can argue with here, such as the whole “full weight of his office” and “manufacture dirt” parts; there’s no evidence of a quid pro quo in the call — or even evidence that the Ukrainians were aware that the military aid was being withheld — and asking the Ukrainians to investigate sketchy dealings in Ukraine by the Bidens is hardly “manufactur[ing] dirt,” if perhaps not the best look morally.
That all being said, the basic gist of Schiff’s statement was this: Accepting dirt from the Ukraine is very, very bad. Unless he does it.
Schiff, again, says he knew that it was a prank call and had informed law enforcement.
“Before agreeing to take the call, and immediately following it, the committee informed appropriate law enforcement and security personnel of the conversation, and of our belief that it was probably bogus,” he said in a statement.
All right, then — why would he say that he was interested in the information?
Let’s say that Schiff was under the impression he was being put on by the Russian Jerky Boys. He could have a) hung up the phone or b) said he wasn’t interested in the information.
Option c), expressing interest in the info and then discussing details of it with the pranksters, seems very unusual for someone who knows he’s being put on.
Bottom line: If you’re one of those people who believe the quid is enough — that we don’t need a pro quo in order to nail Trump because getting information from a foreign government on a political opponent is illegal — you probably should take a close look at Adam Schiff. I doubt you or anyone else will, but we’ll always have this prank call to remind us of the hypocrisy.
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