Politico: Did Schiff "mischaracterize" Parnas texts?

Adam Schiff mischaracterize evidence? Why, that would be unprecedented! Except for that whole we have proof of Russia collusion with Trump staffers thing, of course. And the FBI’s Carter Page FISA warrant was perfect thing, too. Oh, and then there’s Schiff’s misrepresentation of the Trump-Zelensky transcript in a committee hearing, too.

Other than that, this is a total surprise:

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff appears to have mischaracterized a text message exchange between two players in the Ukraine saga, according to documents obtained by POLITICO — a possible error the GOP will likely criticize as another example of the Democrats’ rushed effort to impeach President Donald Trump.

The issue arose when Schiff (D-Calif.) sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) last week summarizing a trove of evidence from Lev Parnas, an indicted former associate of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. In one section of the letter, Schiff claims that Parnas “continued to try to arrange a meeting with President Zelensky,” citing a specific text message exchange where Parnas tells Giuliani: “trying to get us mr Z.” The remainder of the exchange — which was attached to Schiff’s letter — was redacted.

But an unredacted version of the exchange shows that several days later, Parnas sent Giuliani a word document that appears to show notes from an interview with Mykola Zlochevsky, the founder of Burisma, followed by a text message to Giuliani that states: “mr Z answers my brother.” That suggests Parnas was referring to Zlochevsky not Zelensky.

The word document contains a series of questions and answers, but doesn’t identify who is doing the asking or answering. Yet the questions center on the hiring practices at Burisma, while the responses include statements such as “we wanted to build Burisma as [an] international company” and “we also thought it would help in Ukraine to have strong international board figures,” which seems to point to Zlochevsky — not the Ukrainian president — as the respondent.

In other words, this isn’t just an oversight on Schiff’s part. He has access to the redacted portions of the text transcript and should have known that “Z” referred to Zlochevsky. Schiff deliberately chose to claim it meant Zelensky to push his public narrative that Giuliani was pressuring the Ukrainian president on Trump’s behalf, rather than Parnas just trying to dig up dirt on the Bidens on his own through Zlochevsky.

Now that we know that Z is the Burisma oligarch, it changes the entire tenor of the text string. For whatever reason, Giuliani and Parnas tried taking Zlochevsky on directly about the hiring of Hunter Biden. Perhaps they wanted to make sure they covered all their bases for an investigation, but in any case they didn’t get much out of him other than the public reason for paying Hunter Biden $50,000 a month to sit around and look good. They could have gotten that from a press release. This does, however, suggest that Giuliani really was conducting his own independent investigation rather than engaging in a pressure campaign on Zelensky. Or, at the very least, Giuliani was conducting an independent investigation regardless of whatever other activities he might have been doing at the time.

This also raises questions about Schiff’s other claims in attempting to subvert the Senate’s trial process. As House Intelligence chair, Schiff has access to information like this and can leak it to put pressure on the Senate to fix the holes in the impeachment case he pushed in the House. Lev Parnas is one of the witnesses he and other Democrats have suggested calling. It’s bad enough to exploit that access to use it in this manner, but it’s even worse to use that access to deliberately lie about the intel in order to strongarm others on Capitol Hill who have to rely on Schiff to act in an honest and forthright manner with that access.

Amusingly, Politico casts this in its lead as a potential “Republicans pounce!” moment. Not only should Republicans criticize Schiff’s “mischaracterization” of the Parnas transcript, it’s long since past time for the media to start pouncing on Schiff’s serial “mischaracterizations” and worse.