Fact Check: Nancy Pelosi Insists Schiff Didn’t Fake Trump Dialogue in Congress (He Did)

By Joshua Caplan and Ezra Dulis

Appearing Wednesday on ABC News, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) falsely claimed House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) “didn’t make it up” and used President Donald Trump’s “own words” when he performed a fabricated conversation between the president and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a recent hearing.

A partial transcript is as follows: 

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The president was watching your press conference. He says he heard you talk about wanting to do prescription drugs, wanting to do [the] U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement, but now he’s calling you the do-nothing Democrats, says you can’t do it.

HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Why can’t we do it? It’s up to him. That was our pledge during the campaign for the people, we would lower the cost of prescription drugs. I think that the president wants to do that, so I hope that he would cooperate. He does want the United States-Canada-Mexico free trade agreement. So do we, when we have assurances that there will be enforceability for America’s workers and America’s farmers. And we’re close, we’re on a path to “yes.” So, I think the president knows the argument that could be made against him, and he’s scared. And so he’s trying to divert attention from that, to where it’s standing in the way of legislation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say “he’s scared.” You know, he had another tweet right after the one I just talked to you about where he used a word I’m not going to repeat right here. Did you hear the fear in his voice when you spoke to him on the phone last week?

PELOSI: I saw the surprise in his voice that he didn’t understand that I thought what he did was wrong, that he was undermining our national security, that he was undermining our constitution by his actions, and he was undermining the integrity of our elections. He just didn’t see it.


STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you support chairman Schiff but was it right for him to have that dramatic interpretation of the president’s transcript of the phone call at the hearing last week.

PELOSI: I want the American people to know what that phone call was about. I want them to hear, it. So, yeah, it’s fair. It’s sad but he was using the president’s own words. So if he’s—.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, those weren’t the president’s words, it was an interpretation of the president’s words. They’re saying he made this up.

PELOSI: He didn’t make it up.

On September 26, Schiff performed what he called “the essence” of what Trump said to Zelensky in his opening statement as House Intel Chairman:

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. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it. On this and on that. I’m gonna put you in touch with people, and not just any people. I’m going to put you in touch 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. 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 asked.

This is in sum and character what the president was trying to communicate.

The words “reciprocity,” “make up dirt,” “political opponent,” and many more of the rhetorical flourishes do not show up in the actual transcript. Trump encourages Zelensky to “call me more often” and mentions Biden by name once — not eight times, as erroneously claimed by the so-called “whistleblower” who contacted Schiff’s House Intel Committee before going to the intelligence community’s inspector general.

There is no evidence for Pelosi’s claim that Schiff was communicating the truth. There is only evidence to the contrary, making this statement clearly false.

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