With impeachment efforts against President Donald Trump resting on the content of a single phone call, who could blame Congressman Adam Schiff for embellishing the truth a little, all to sell his “Orange Man Bad” narrative.
Though Trump released a transcript of the call in question on Wednesday, the Democrat-controlled House Intelligence Committee pressed ahead with questioning Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire on Thursday, about his handling of the whistleblower complaint that first thrust the phone call into the spotlight.
His thunder stolen by the release of the transcript – which failed to reveal the quid-pro-quo arrangement between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Democrats had alleged – Schiff added some dramatic flourishes to his summary of the call as Maguire’s hearing opened, describing “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 gonna say this only seven times, so you better listen good.”
“I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand, lots of it. On this and on that. I’m going to put you in touch with people…and by the way don’t call me again. I’ll call you when you’ve done what I asked.”
Sounds dramatic, but the only problem? Trump didn’t say any of this. Not a word. Schiff was mocked by Republican lawmakers and pundits for being so “desperate” that he resorted to rewriting the call into “unhinged ‘Orange Man Bad’ fan fiction.”
Chastised by Republicans on the committee, Schiff admitted that his mad-libbed re-telling of the call was “parody,” a stand-up routine of sorts from the California congressman. “It’s a shame that we started off this hearing with fictional remarks,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) said. “Unfortunately today, many innocent Americans are going to turn on their TV and the media is only going to show that section of what the chairman had to say.”
From his wooden delivery to his poor imitation of Trump, Schiff will unlikely be leaving Washington DC for Hollywood any time soon. However, the California Democrat is well versed in grandiose storytelling. Schiff branded the idea of probing Joe Biden’s son Hunter over his role at a Ukrainian gas holding as “making up dirt” – this from the same Schiff who kept audiences on edge for the last two years by promising to reveal “direct evidence” of “Russian collusion” hiding “in plain sight.”
Schiff’s promises never amounted to anything beyond the contents of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report and, perhaps with Russia seeming a dead end, the congressman is now looking to Ukraine to satisfy his appetite for investigation.
The actual Trump quote on Biden in the conversation with Zelensky goes as follows: “The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution [of the Burisma Holding where Hunter Biden was on board of directors] and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general [William Barr] would be great.”