Former Trump official presses Adam Schiff to explain promotion of discredited Steele dossier

Morgan Ortagus, a former State Department spokeswoman confronted House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) over his frequent past promotion of a discredited ‘dossier’ compiled by retired British spy Christopher Steele during an interview on ABC’s “The View” on Tuesday.

The former Trump official’s remarks come on the heels of an indictment by special counsel John Durham of Russian-born Igor Danchenko, said to be the primary source of information contained in the dossier that the FBI used to launch a counterterrorism investigation of Trump in 2016 when he was on a glide path to capture the GOP presidential nomination. The allegations contained in the document suggested that Trump was working with the Kremlin to subvert the election.

“You defended, promoted, you even read into the Congressional record the Steele dossier. We know last week the main source of the Steele dossier was indicted for lying to the FBI most of the key claims in that dossier,” Ortagus said. “Do you have any reflections on your role in promoting this to the American people?”

“First of all, whoever lied to the FBI or lied to Christopher Steele should be prosecuted, and they are,” Schiff said, “Unlike in the Trump administration, if they’re convicted, they should go to jail and not be pardoned.”

Schiff went on to note that Trump pardoned GOP operative Roger Stone and his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, for lying to Congress and the FBI, respectively, though last year, the Justice Department dropped its case against Flynn after it was discovered that he was entrapped by the bureau.

“At the beginning of the Russia investigation, I said that any allegations should be investigated. We couldn’t have known, for example, that people were lying to Christopher Steele,” Schiff said. “So, it was proper to investigate them.

“And, let’s not forget what we learned in that investigation,” the California Democrat continued. “We learned that the Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was giving internal polling data to Russian intelligence, while Russian intelligence was helping the Trump campaign.”

Ortagus interjected, noting that Manafort “was fired halfway through” Trump’s 2016 campaign, which led Schiff to counter by falsely accusing the Trump campaign of continuing to seek out “Russian help.”

Ortagus interrupted again to remind Schiff that “for years” he “helped spread Russian disinformation” by frequently making disproven claims of “collusion” between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

“I think that’s what Republicans and people who entrusted you as the Intel Committee chair are so confused about your culpability in all this,” she said.

Schiff responded by saying he “completely” disagreed with Ortagus’ “premise,” adding “it’s one thing to say allegations should be investigated, and they were; it’s another to say that we should have foreseen in advance that some people were lying to Christopher Steele — which is impossible, of course, to do.”

“But let’s not use that as a smokescreen to somehow shield Donald Trump’s culpability for inviting Russia to help them in the election, which they did,” Schiff claimed, adding that the Trump administration also attempted to “coerce Ukraine” into helping his reelection, “which he did,” and “inciting insurrection, which he did.”

“None of that serious misconduct is in any way diminished by the fact that people lied to Christopher Steele,” he added.

Orgagus pushed back: “No, I think just your credibility is.”

Several investigations into allegations of collusion with Russia turned up no evidence to support the charges, including an extensive probe by former special counsel Robert Mueller. Also, no one arrested for taking part in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot thus far has been charged with seditious activity.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also stated publicly that Trump was not trying to coerce or blackmail him regarding military aid to the country.

Missy Halsey


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