In a bizarre exchange this week with former State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) was confronted with his relentless promoting of the now debunked Steele dossier in prior years. Schiff surprisingly declared “First of all, whoever lied to the FBI or Christopher Steele should be prosecuted, and they are.” (It is actually not a crime to lie to Christopher Steele under 18 U.S.C. 1001. It is a crime to lie to federal investigators). It was a curious statement from someone who attacked the appointment of the Special Counsel and, with other leading Democrats, did his level best to kill the investigation. If it had been left to Schiff, there would have been no John Durham and no Durham indictments.
I have been writing about the Durham investigation for two years and the need to look into serious questions linking Clinton associates with the advancement of false claims of collusion. There was a constant barrage of ridicule and abuse for those writing on the investigation. Members and legal experts lined up to claim that there was nothing to be found and that Mueller had already revealed all that needed to be known about the scandal. The recent investigations, of course, disprove those attacks by detailing new evidence of a coordinated and concerted effort by the Clinton campaign to create this scandal.
Schiff previously claimed that he had direct evidence of collusion in his Committee despite Mueller finding no such evidence to support criminal charges. Schiff however has never produced that evidence.
Durham has now shown how Clinton associates engineered the scandal and may have even been the true sources for the most salacious details in the dossier. In 2017, American intelligence said that it believed that the dossier may have been used by Russian intelligence to spread disinformation.
Schiff opposed Durham while insisting that Mueller should be allowed to continue his own investigation. Judging from the three indictments by Durham, it is now clear why Democrats sought to kill the investigation.
Schiff told MSNBC that ongoing investigations would constitute “tearing down our democracy” and would serve as a way to “delegitimize” a president. This also included any continued investigation of the Hunter Biden scandal. Schiff denounced the Durham investigation as a “politically motivated” effort despite the fact that Durham suspended any public actions before the election to avoid even the appearance of political manipulation. He resisted demands from Trump to issue a report before the election.
Schiff raised the termination of the Durham investigation by Attorney General Garland before Durham could issue any indictments or reports. He added “The appointment is not consistent with the language of the statute that he’s relying on and can be rescinded, I think, by the next attorney general. I would presume the next attorney general will look to see if there is any merit to the work that John Durham is doing.”
On the campaign trail, Biden also dismissed the “investigation of the investigators.”
Likewise, then Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), sent a letter to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz to demand the investigation of Durham as a possible political shill. She was joined by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
Notably, the letter from the senators in 2020 raised one of the greatest concerns for Democrats about this investigation: any Special Counsel report. These were the same members demanding not just the release of the Mueller report but some even wanted the release of the unredacted report (including grand jury information that cannot be publicly disclosed absent a court order). However, in 2020 they wanted to kill any report by Durham: “In addition, it remains unclear what rules and authority permit the public release of a ‘report’ by U.S. Attorney Durham, raising additional concerns about the legitimacy of his appointment and work.”
Many of the same members and pundits continued to mock the Durham investigation even after his first indictment. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow (who was one of the chief promoters of the Steele dossier) even called upon fired FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok to discredit the latest indictment.
For his part, Schiff’s sudden belief that people need to be prosecuted over the Steele dossier would be more compelling if he had not done all that he could to end the investigation that uncovered such alleged crimes.
This is all quite swampy, of course. However, Schiff has long been assuring the public that there is nothing to see here and that rodents of unusual size do not reside in this particular swamp: