House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) performed an entirely made-up conversation between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his opening statement at a committee hearing Thursday morning.
The White House released a transcript of a phone call between Trump and Zelensky on Wednesday, but Schiff made up and fabricated his own transcript that he read at the hearing, which sought to create the quid pro quo that Democrats have accused the president of making.
“This is the essence of what the president communicates,” Schiff began.
“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,” Schiff read from his fabricated conversation.
“I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it,” he continued.
“On this and on that. I’m gonna put you in touch with people and not just any people,” he continued, affecting an accent meant to resemble Trump’s. “I’m going to put you with the attorney general of the United States, my attorney general Bill Barr. He’s got the whole weight of the American law enforcement behind him.”
“And I’m gonna put you in touch with Rudy, you’re gonna love him, trust me,” Schiff said, still avoiding any real quotations from the transcript. “You know what I’m asking, so I’m only going to say this a few more times, in a few more ways. And by the way don’t call me again. I’ll call you when you’ve done what I’ve asked.”
Schiff said of his made-up conversation, “This is in sum and character what the president was trying to communicate.”
Republican lawmakers slammed Schiff for making up the conversation entirely, instead of going off the transcript of what was actually said between Trump and Zelensky.
Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) called the statement “fiction”:
While the chairman was speaking, 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 people are smart. They have the transcript, they’ve read the conversation, they know when someone is just making it up.
After Turner’s scolding, Schiff said his “summary of the president’s call was at least meant to be in part parody.”
He added, “The fact that that’s not clear is a separate problem in and of itself. Of course the president never said, “If you didn’t understand me, I’m going to say it seven more times.’ My point is, that’s the message the Ukrainian president was receiving in not so many words.”
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) accused Schiff of being intentionally misleading.
“I think it’s a shame that we started off this hearing with fictional remarks — the implication of a conversation that took place between a president and foreign leader, putting words into it that didn’t exist, they’re not in the transcript. And I would contend that they were intentionally not clear,” he said.
“The chairman described it as parody, and I don’t think this is the time or place for parody when we are trying to seek facts,” he added.
“And unfortunately today, many innocent Americans are going to turn on their TV and the media’s only going to show that section of what the chairman had to say, but I’m also glad to know that many Americans have seen this movie too many times and are tired of it.”