In an interview on Sunday with Jonathan Karl on ABC News’ “This Week,” Rep. Adam Schiff acknowledged it wouldn’t be “appropriate” for Democrats to receive any assistance from the Ukrainian government, but he suggested the alleged scandal involving Donald Trump Jr. and people claiming to have damaging information given by the Russian government is much worse.
In January, Politico published an investigative story connecting Ukrainian government officials to a Democrat operative. The operative allegedly used information passed from the Ukrainian government to help Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign in their fight against Donald Trump, who the Ukrainians believed to be too friendly with the Russian government.
According to Politico’s report, which Karl read from before asking Schiff a question about the event, “a Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the DNC met with top officials in the Ukrainian embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia. The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in this race, helping force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that the Trump campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia.”
“I understand Hillary Clinton lost,” Karl said to Schiff, “and I understand this effort was not as elaborate as the Russian effort, but was it acceptable, or would it have been acceptable for the Democrats to accept help from the Ukrainian government in this campaign?”
“No, it would be appropriate for the Democrats to get help from the Ukrainian government,” Schiff replied. “But I think if you look at the Politico article, and we’re talking about just a single article here, if you accept all the facts in the article, the scale of what the Russians did is not comparable to anything in that article.”
“If it were, the comparable analogy would be that the Ukrainian president directed the Ukrainian intelligence agencies to steal, to hack, Donald Trump’s campaign, steal e-mails, publish them, directed a social media army to influence the election, and sat down — its representatives sat down with Chelsea Clinton and John Podesta in which they indicated they wanted the dirt on Donald Trump,” Schiff said. “There’s no suggestion anything of that magnitude [inaudible].”
“The scale is different. … But the meeting is problematic? This Ukrainian meeting is problematic, in your eyes?” Karl asked.
“Well, it would be problematic to get any kind of support from a foreign government,” Schiff said. “But, again, I think to compare the two is like a bit like comparing bank robbery with writing a check with insufficient funds. Both appropriate money from the bank improperly, but a very different degree of seriousness and involvement in the case by a foreign government.”
As the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff has been one of the Trump administration’s staunchest critics and most skeptical opponents, especially on the issue of possible Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election.
Schiff’s comments came just days after a new report revealed at least eight people were present at the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer claiming to have Kremlin-linked damaging knowledge about Hillary Clinton, information Trump Jr. failed to disclose in previous statements about the controversial meeting. NBC News also reported on Friday one of the attendees at the meeting was a former Soviet counterintelligence officer.
President Donald Trump and Trump Jr. have both denied any wrongdoing and dismissed the importance of these reports. On Sunday, Trump wrote on Twitter, “HillaryClinton can illegally get the questions to the Debate & delete 33,000 emails but my son Don is being scorned by the Fake News Media?”
HillaryClinton can illegally get the questions to the Debate & delete 33,000 emails but my son Don is being scorned by the Fake News Media?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2017