Republican House Intelligence Committee member Mike Turner summed up the situation well in his turn with DNI Joseph Maguire. It’s not as though there aren’t any problems with Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky, Turner declares, much of which is “not okay” and “disappointing.” The problem, Turner continues, is that “not okay” doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment, and the complainant doesn’t appear to have much more, especially any direct knowledge of the events he alleges. That’s why, Turner alleges, chair Adam Schiff and other Democrats are stuck with “making things up”:
While critical of hearing and whistleblower's complaint, GOP Rep. Mike Turner says Pres. Trump's conversation with Ukraine "is not okay."
— ABC News (@ABC) September 26, 2019
TURNER: Now, I’ve read the complaint and I’ve read the transcript of the conversation with the president and the president of the Ukraine. Concerning that conversation, I want to say to the president, this is not okay. That conversation is not okay, and I think it’s disappointing to the American public when they read the transcript.
I can say what else it is not: it is not what’s in the complaint. We now have the complaint and the transcript, and people can read that the allegations in the complaint are not the allegations of the subject matter of this conversation. What else it’s not: it’s not the conversation that was in the chairman’s opening statement. 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 in the text.
What did Schiff make up? Here’s the portion of his opening statement in which Schiff seems to be referencing the reporting on the conversation prior to the release of the transcript, rather than the transcript itself:
Rep. Schiff re-writes the call transcript for added drama: "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 going to put you in touch with people" pic.twitter.com/1rV7BpEN6o
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 26, 2019
Schiff tried to claim that he was offering “the essence” of what was being said, but to call that a stretch is quite an understatement. That turned some heads, and not just Turners’:
Adam Schiff just made up what President Trump said during his call with Ukrainian President Zelensky
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) September 26, 2019
Adam Schiff is now doing a fictional retelling of the transcript. This is bizarre.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) September 26, 2019
Turner continued to rebuke Schiff for hijacking an important oversight committee with a specific purpose all year to pursue impeachment. That project is “an assault on the electorate,” Turner declared, part of Democrats two-year-plus project to negate the results of a legitimate election:
TURNER: Luckily, the American public are smart, and they have the transcript. They’ve read the conversation. They know when someone’s just making it up. Now, we’ve seen this movie before; we’ve been here all year on litigating impeachment long before the July 25th conversation happened between the president and the president of the Ukraine. And we’ve heard the clicks of the camera in this Intelligence Committee’s room, where we’ve not been focusing on the issues of national security threats but instead of the calls for impeachment, which is really an assault on the electorate, not just this president.
What was Schiff’s response to this? Clown nose on, dudes!
Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (CA) admits that his blatant fabrication of quotes from Trump's Ukraine call was "wrong" after he got called out
Schiff claims it was a "parody"
Impeachment is a politically polarizing event and Schiff thinks it's just a big joke
Absolutely unreal pic.twitter.com/YqcQscCKYt
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) September 26, 2019
Well, it’s good to know that Schiff considers himself a comedian now. The rest of us reached that conclusion months ago.
Otherwise, the House Intelligence Committee hearing featuring Joseph Maguire’s testimony is turning out to be something of a snoozer. Analysts have complained on Twitter that the panel members seem much more interested in process than in the central claim of the whistleblower — that Donald Trump abused his office for personal political gain. That, of course, could be because the provenance of that claim involves second- and third-hand information from a complaint based in large part (but not entirely) on a phone call whose transcript has already been published.
Besides, Maguire was called to testify about the process more than the specifics of the complaint. Schiff hauled him before the committee to answer for his initial refusal to produce the complaint and the whistleblower to the committee, which Maguire explained involved potential questions of executive privilege and intel community jurisdiction. The White House never did make a privilege claim, Maguire has testified, which allowed him to finally produce the complaint and make the whistleblower available — although Maguire also acknowledged that the situation was unprecedented, in his experience.
It may not be the sexiest conversation in the world, but it’s a necessary one, especially — as Maguire points out — we don’t really have anything in this complaint except unsubstantiated gossip. As for a cover-up, Maguire sums up the situation well when answering Eric Swalwell:
Acting DNI Maguire: "How the White House, the executive office of the president and the national security council conduct their business is their business."
Rep. Swalwell: "Well, it's actually your business to protect America's secrets, is that right?"
"It's all of ours." pic.twitter.com/9GN3OkTVMm
— ABC News (@ABC) September 26, 2019
MAGUIRE: Congressman, there is an allegation of a cover-up. I’m sure an investigation and before this committee might lend credence or disprove that. But right now, all we have is an allegation with second-hand information from a whistleblower. I have no knowledge of whether or not that is true and accurate.
Perhaps everyone should stop leaping to conclusions, and maybe avoid making things up as a springboard for that purpose too.