Katie Pavlich: Schiff's shifting standards

Katie Pavlich: Schiff's shifting standards
© Greg Nash

Since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffREAD: House impeachment managers' trial brief Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP MORE (D-Calif.) has made a career out of capitalizing on conspiracy theories and repeating them on national television. As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a position gained when Republicans lost the House in 2018, he’s only been emboldened.

The special counsel investigation into the 2016 presidential election bolstered Schiff’s brazenness, until Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE testified on Capitol Hill over the summer and failed to “bring to life” the pages of his more than 400-page report. That report failed to show collusion between any members of the Trump campaign and the Russian government. It also couldn’t prove obstruction of justice on behalf of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE. Removing Trump from the White House on this issue was over and the vast majority of the country had decided to move on. 

But shortly after Mueller’s disastrous testimony, Schiff got what he thinks is a second chance at impeachment. 

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On Aug. 12, Schiff received a complaint from someone claiming to be a whistleblower. They said they had second-hand knowledge of a July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The individual alleged Trump issued a quid pro quo, which included withholding military aid in return for an investigation into the Biden family’s dealings in the country. 

The read out from the call, while former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden alleges Sanders campaign 'doctored video' to attack him on Social Security record Sanders campaign responds to Biden doctored video claims: Biden should 'stop trying to doctor' public record Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger pens op-ed in defense of Biden: 'I stuttered once, too. I dare you to mock me' MORE is mentioned, says no such thing. During a meeting at the United Nations General Assembly in September, Zelensky publicly stated he was not asked to do anything improper and didn’t feel pressured. It was later revealed Ukraine not only got the military aid, but that Ukrainian officials weren’t aware it was being held up for any particular reason. 

Despite these facts, Schiff’s charade, backed up by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiREAD: House impeachment managers' trial brief Desperate Democrats badmouth economy even as it booms Pelosi offers message to Trump on Bill Maher show: 'You are impeached forever' MORE (D-Calif.), continues. During one of the first hearings on the issue, Schiff fabricated the phone call for the congressional record and the television cameras. He literally made up what President Trump said. A number of depositions have been conducted behind closed doors, giving him the ability to selectively leak information from transcripts without proper context and now, as public impeachment inquiry hearings begin, he’s refusing to call witnesses requested by Republicans on the committee.

One of those witnesses is Hunter Biden, who was paid as much as $50,000 per month by Ukrainian gas company Burisma and was leveraged by lobbyists to gain access to high-profile State Department meetings while Joe Biden was still vice president. Another is Schiff himself. 

Schiff has come under scrutiny by members of his committee for failing to share the whistleblower complaint when it was received. As noted, he received it on Aug. 12, but held it for more than a month. Then, he gave lawmakers on the committee little time to access and review it.

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“Transparency to the American public is critical to our democracy. Transparency among our colleagues in Congress is also critical to effectively conducting committee work. House Intel rank and file Members had access to [whistleblower] complaint from 4-6:30 pm on Wed September 25th,” Congresswoman Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikOvernight Energy: Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel | GOP lawmakers push back on bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners | Green groups sue Trump over California fracking plans Republicans push back on bipartisan bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners Trump: Pelosi doesn't want to hand over 'fraudulently produced' articles of impeachment MORE (R-N.Y.) tweeted in September. “[Important] question - when did Adam Schiff have access to the complaint or any related information? The letter to Schiff and Burr was dated August 12th. Did Schiff have ANY access earlier than Committee & if yes, why did he not immediately share this with his Committee?”

The timeline raises serious questions about Schiff’s role in the whistleblower complaint itself and his efforts to coach witnesses. 

This of course could be clarified by testimony from the whistleblower. Yet, despite originally saying this testimony was essential to getting to the truth, Schiff now argues it is irrelevant to moving the impeachment process forward.

“The impeachment inquiry, moreover, has gathered an ever-growing body of evidence — from witnesses and documents, including the president’s own words in his July 25 call record — that not only confirms, but far exceeds, the initial information in the whistleblower’s complaint. The whistleblower’s testimony is therefore redundant and unnecessary,” Schiff now says. 

Recent polling from PBS News Hour shows American voters, including 88 percent of Democrats, want the whistleblower to testify. Seventy-four percent of independents say the same. These numbers are far from “irrelevant.” 

Schiff has repeatedly shifted the terms for testimony, made up a phone call and has denied witnesses requested by the Republican minority on the Intelligence Committee. The Democratic-led, party-line vote formalizing the impeachment inquiry was proof this is a partisan undertaking from a discredited chairman. Schiff’s recent actions certainly bolster that argument and make the stakes of his impeachment gamble even higher.

Pavlich is the editor for Townhall.com and a Fox News contributor.