Various commentators, including Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume, have expressed disbelief with the statement of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on Fox News Sunday that he had no idea of the extensive FISA abuse found by Inspector General Michael Horowitz. I share that view. Schiff’s predecessor at the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, raised many of these abuses which were adamantly denied by Schiff for months. The media for its part virtually mocked such claims as conspiracy theories and false news. Now the media and Schiff is claiming total surprise by the findings (if they acknowledge them at all). The lack of media scrutiny over Schiff’s denial is breathtaking and explains why many voters do not trust reporting over the various investigations.
In his interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Schiff told Chris Wallace there were “serious abuses of FISA that I was unaware of . . . Had I known of them, Chris, yes, I would’ve called out the FBI at the same time. But I think it’s only fair to judge what we knew at the time.”
That is one of the more extraordinary statements to come out of these scandals. Schiff spent two years swatting back these claims and was repeatedly confronted with them by their prior Chair of the Committee. Schiff not only showed little interest in confirming the allegations but assured the public that they were meritless. Yet, the media has, again, simply taken his statement as somehow manifestly true.
Hume took after Schiff over the statement:
“One of the most striking things about this IG report … is how closely it mirrors what the Devin Nunes investigation — when Nunes was still chairman and Schiff was ranking member on the intelligence committee — what Nunes found and what he said about the FISA abuses, and so on — to which, this very same Adam Schiff issued a report and rebuttal, which disputed the Nunes findings — findings now confirmed by the IG report.”
For those of us who have been commenting on these controversies, there have been ample reports about the omissions in the FISA application and the lack of evidence supporting the allegations against figures like Carter Page, the subject of a recent column.
What is equally disturbing and baffling is President Donald Trump’s most recent attack on Fox for even interviewing figures like Schiff. Even if one puts aside the continued attacks on the free press and its obligation to hear all sides of these controversies, President Trump could at least recognize that such interviews tend to expose inconsistencies and falsehoods. Wallace supplied a probing and substantive interview — precisely what Trump has argued is missing in much of the coverage.