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House Republicans are preparing to strip Adam Schiff of his Intelligence Committee seat, and his media allies are rallying to the California Democrat’s defense. Maybe that’s because he was such a useful source against Republicans over the years, as the latest documents released by Twitter show.
The media says House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s motive for removing the ranking House Intel member is retribution for Nancy Pelosi’s unprecedented decision to strip two Republicans of committee seats in the last Congress. No doubt Republicans want Democrats to meditate on the consequences of their norm-busting. But Mr. McCarthy has offered a good reason for giving the Californian the boot: “Adam Schiff openly lied to the American public.”
That’s true. The most well documented example was in early 2018, in response to then Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’s effort to inform the public about the FBI’s abuse of the FISA warrant process as part of its Trump-Russia collusion probe.
Mr. Nunes released a memo summarizing the committee’s findings that the FBI had obtained surveillance warrants from the secret FISA court against former Trump staffer Carter Page during the 2016 campaign; that the Steele dossier financed by the Clinton campaign formed an “essential” part of the surveillance applications; and that the FBI failed to tell the FISA court that dossier author Christopher Steele had political and media ties.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz confirmed all of this two years later in his report on the FBI’s probe. But in early 2018 Mr. Schiff fought release of the Nunes memo, and he released a memo of his own that he claimed was a more accurate summary of the evidence.
Though he had access to the same documents, the Schiff memo trashed the Nunes document and he deceived the public. His summary claimed the “FBI and DOJ officials did not ‘abuse’ the [FISA] process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.” That was all false. Yet nearly all of the media seized on the Schiff document to declare the Nunes memo “a joke,” and keep the collusion deceit going for another year.
The latest Twitter documents released by journalist Matt Taibbi have exposed another Schiff falsehood. As news broke that Mr. Nunes had submitted his then-classified memo to Congress, Twitter exploded with the hashtag “#ReleaseTheMemo.” Mr. Schiff—still trying to block the memo’s release—joined ranking Senate Judiciary Democrat Dianne Feinstein to publicly claim this hashtag was driven by “Russian bots and trolls” in an effort to “manipulate public opinion,” “influence congressional action” and “undermine Special Counsel [Robert] Mueller’s investigation” into the collusion claim.
The Democrats asked Twitter and Facebook to “expose and deactivate accounts involved in this influence operation.” Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse released their own public letter bemoaning “Russian agents” who so “eagerly manipulated innocent American citizens.”
The documents now show that Twitter executives promptly reported back to Democrats that it had not “identified any significant activity connected to Russia.” As one internal communication explained: “We investigated, found that engagement was overwhelmingly organic.” One Twitter employee in an email advised telling an aide to Sen. Blumenthal that it was in his “boss’s best interest to not go out there on this because it could come back to make him look silly.” Yet Mr. Schiff and company kept up their smears against Mr. Nunes and his memo.
Mr. Schiff has other deceptions in his record, including numerous false claims that he had secret evidence of Trump-Russia collusion. He never produced any, and neither did the Mueller report.
We rehearse all this because Mr. Schiff and his media friends are claiming he is being targeted unfairly by Republicans. But as a ranking Democrat and later the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, he had a particular duty to be honest because he had access to classified information that the press can’t verify. He could deceive without fear of contradiction until months later. Payback or not, Adam Schiff has earned his ouster from the Intelligence Committee.