Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has been putting on quite a show lately, holding daily press briefings in which he fires off accusations of self-interest at the administration and fellow members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, especially Chairman Devin Nunes.
Yesterday’s performance centered on the imminent release of the Democratic rebuttal to Nunes’s explosive FISA abuse memo. During his presser, Schiff told members of the media once again that House Republicans had stonewalled the release of the document when in fact the only impediment to its release was that it go through the same formal channels as the Nunes memo. In fact, when the 11-page rebuttal document came up for a vote yesterday, the committee was unanimous in the desire to make it public.
One theme that has run through all of Schiff’s grievance sessions has been the disrespect Republicans in his view have shown the FBI and Department of Justice. In an op-ed published in The Washington Post two days before the release of the Nunes memo, Schiff complained that the document “cherry-picks facts, ignores others and smears the FBI and the Justice Department — all while potentially revealing intelligence sources and methods.” [Emphasis added]
The Republicans’ counterargument, outlined in the Nunes memo, includes the indisputable claim that the FISA applications sought by higher-ups in both those agencies were knowingly based on a tainted dossier. Far from seeking to undermine the U.S. intelligence apparatus as a whole, as Schiff has intimated, the goal of Republican lawmakers has been to hold five officers accountable for their bad actions.
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Although he is loath to admit it, Schiff himself is aware of the rightness of this remedy. His own words attest to that.
In 1991, when Schiff was an assistant U.S. attorney, he won a conviction in the trial of a former FBI agent named Richard Miller who had been charged with espionage.
During Miller’s sentencing, District Court Judge Robert Takasugi, who presided over the case, said, according to The New York Times:
Mr. Miller betrayed the national trust placed upon him in his duty with the foreign counterintelligence squad of the F.B.I. Yet I wonder why the agency allowed him to serve in that capacity when it knew of his susceptible qualities.
Attorney Schiff was inclined to agree, telling the court:
This is a betrayal tinged with hypocrisy. We have here an agent who did just exactly what he was supposed to protect against.
That is precisely the situation now as well, only Rep. Schiff is speaking out of the other side of his mouth.