Stephanopoulos Shocks Viewers, Hammers Schiff For Making Up Trump Conversation
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On Sunday, ABC News host George Stephanopoulos shredded Democratic member of the House Adam Schiff for making up an entire phone conversation between President Donald Trump and the Ukrainian President.
During a hearing last week, Schiff lied to the American people by claiming that President Trump tried “to try to coerce that leader to manufacture dirt on his opponent and interfere in our election … at a time when the president is withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance to Ukraine.”
He later tried to cover himself by claiming that his false statements were just a "parody."
Stephanopoulos started by playing the clip of Schiff at the hearing where he fabricated the quotes and lied to the American people.
“That was you making up dialogue, putting it in the president’s mouth,” Stephanopoulos said to the California congressman. “If the facts are as damning as you say, why make up dialogue for dramatic effect, even if it’s a parody, as you say?”
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos confronts Adam Schiff for “making up” President Trump’s phone call pic.twitter.com/JT0j5clYnr— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) September 29, 2019
Check out the transcript of the conversation below:
STEPHANOPOULOS: The chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. Mr. Chairman, thank you for joining us this morning. You just heard Rudy Giuliani say you are not a fair chair of this committee. He — it is difficult for him to cooperate — at one point, he said he would not cooperate as long as you are the chair.Your response?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, he seems to think that I’m the judge and jury here. My role is to do the investigation. My role is to make sure that the facts come out. If it were to lead to an impeachment — and I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves — it’ll be the Senate that makes the determination about whether the president’s conduct should result in his removal from office. But, yes, I intend to hold the president accountable. And I intend to do a thorough investigation. And what we have seen already is damning, because what we have seen in that call record is a president of the United States use the full weight of his office, with a country beholden to America for its defense, even as Russian troops occupy part of its land. And the president used that opportunity to try to coerce that leader to manufacture dirt on his opponent and interfere in our election. It’s hard to imagine a series of facts more damning than that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me…
SCHIFF: And so, yes, we’re going to get to the bottom of it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me — let me — let me stop you right there, because you’re already hearing some of the president’s defenders, even those who — some who say the call was not appropriate, suggest that, in the absence of an explicit quid pro quo, some kind of statement from the president or document that says, we are withholding the aid until you do that investigation, that you — that that is what is necessary to pursue impeachment, that kind of an explicit quid pro quo. What’s your response to that?
SCHIFF: Well, that’s nonsense. It is illegal, improper, a violation of oath, a violation of his duty to defend our elections and our Constitution for the president to merely ask for foreign interference in our election. That is enough that the president said, I want you to do us a favor, and “though,” he added, immediately after the Ukraine president talked about the need to get more Javelins, more weapons to defend against Russia. So, we don’t have to show a quid pro quo, although this conversation comes awfully close. But here you have the added fact that this conversation takes place at a time when the president is withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance to Ukraine. Well, the Ukrainian people and their president are not stupid and neither are the American people. And they can see and understand and appreciate a shakedown when they see it going on, and that’s exactly what this was.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The whistleblower’s complaint also mentions Mayor Giuliani and his efforts several times, more than two dozen times, in the complaint. Do you need to call Rudy Giuliani as a witness?
SCHIFF: We’ll make that decision down the road, after we determine all the facts that he was involved in, in terms of his efforts that I think were a foundation to that phone call. It seemed that the Ukraine president understood before the call what was going to be asked of him. So we want to flesh out the facts, then we’ll make a determination about whether it would be productive to bring in a witness like Rudy Giuliani. But, you know, let’s — let me — let me address this attack that he made and others in the GOP have made on this whistleblower. This whistleblower showed a lot of guts to come forward. And the fact that what the whistleblower related came from third parties doesn’t make it less credible when that information is borne out. And here, what the whistleblower reported about the president’s communications with President Zelensky turned out to be right on the mark. What they communicated about withholding of funds turned out to be right on the mark. And what the whistleblower communicated about sequestering these conversations or this conversation in a place it didn’t belong, this covert action classified file turns out to be exactly right. So this whistleblower has already been substantially corroborated, which suggests that other information that he or she provide in that complaint likewise may be subject to corroboration. So do not dismiss both the professionalism of this whistleblower and — and this is what we would expect of someone who comes out of the intelligence community.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Have you reached an agreement yet with the whistleblower and his or her attorneys about coming before the committee and providing the information firsthand?
SCHIFF: Yes, we have. And as Director Maguire promised during the hearing, that whistleblower will be allowed to come in and come in without a minder from the Justice Department or from the White House to tell the whistleblower what they can and cannot say. We’ll get the unfiltered testimony of that whistleblower. Now, we are taking all the precautions we can to make sure that we do so — we allow that testimony to go forward in a way to protect the whistleblower’s identity. Because as you can imagine with the president issuing threats like we ought to treat these people who expose my wrongdoing as we used to treat traitors and spies and we used to execute traitors and spies, you can imagine the security concerns here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So when do you expect to hear from the whistleblower?
SCHIFF: Very soon. You know, it will depend probably more on how quickly the director of National Intelligence can complete the security clearance process for the whistleblower’s lawyers, but we’re ready to hear from the whistleblower as soon as that is done. And we’ll keep obviously riding shotgun to make sure the acting director doesn’t delay in that clearance process.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You — you heard Mayor Giuliani say that he — he might invoke attorney/client privilege or — or he’ll testify if the president asks him to but if the president wants him not to testify, it seems likely that he won’t. What about those other White House aides mentioned in the whistleblower’s complaint? The president suggested that maybe they’re going to have to go to the courts to stop this impeachment process. Are you concerned that they’re going to slow this whole process down by claiming executive privilege over the testimony of White House aides?
SCHIFF: Well I am concerned about it. They have been making these fallacious claims of privilege for months and months now in seeking to obstruct the work of Congress. But here’s the problem for the administration with that strategy. And that is even as they try to undermine our ability to get to the bottom of the full facts of how he was coercing Ukraine to dig up dirt on his opponent or manufacture it, they will be strengthening the case for an article of impeachment based on obstruction of the lawful functions of Congress. And so they can’t have it both ways. If they’re going to obstruct, then they’re going to increase the likelihood that Congress may feel it necessary to move forward with an article on obstruction. One way or another, though, we’re going to get this information. We’re going to find out why those funds were withheld, who was in the know about it, we’re going to find out what other communications were also improperly hidden in this classified system that’s meant to contain the most highly sensitive, classified information involving covert action, not the president’s misconduct. So we’re going to make sure that we get to the bottom of this no matter what they do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why has there not been a full House vote authorizing these impeachment proceedings? That happened in the case of Richard Nixon, it happened in the case of Bill Clinton and it happened with Andrew Johnson.
SCHIFF: Well, look, I tried an impeachment case some years ago in the Senate involving a corrupt judge. As far as I recall, we didn’t have a vote in the — in the full House to formally —
STEPHANOPOULOS: For the presidential impeachments you have.
SCHIFF: Well, it’s certainly not necessary as a matter of constitutional law that we have a vote. All that’s necessary is that we conduct the impeachment inquiry in the manner that we’re doing, that we, through the Judiciary Committee, and Chairman Nadler has already done this, declared themselves to be pursuing an impeachment inquiry, and now this is the formal position of the entire caucus and our leadership. So, a vote isn’t required. What’s important here is that the work get done. And the work is getting done. And we’re bringing a real sense of urgency to it. I’ve what’s important is the work gets done and we’re bringing a sense of urgency to it. We have got the inspector-general coming back in this week, this time in closed session, again discuss those other witnesses, George, that you mentioned, that we’re going to want to talk to who are within the White House or were within the White House, that can shed light on the serious allegations in the complaint. We have noticed depositions for five of the State Department people for this week, the former ambassador to Ukrainian who was abruptly removed from her post, as well as Ambassador Volker who was part of the liaison between Giuliani and whatever kind of conduct he was engaged in, in Ukraine. So, we’re moving forward with all speed. And that’s really what’s important here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have been criticized by the president and others for comments you made in your opening statement at the hearing on Thursday. I want to show a bit of it right here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: 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. This is in sum and character what the president was trying to communicate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: That was you making up dialogue, putting it in the president’s mouth. If the facts are as damning as you say, why make up dialog for dramatic effect, even if it’s a parody, as you say?
SCHIFF: Well, George, you’re right the call speaks for itself. And it is plenty damning, but let’s not pretend that this is really what the president is upset with me about. I can tell you exactly why the president is furious with me, and that is because when I learned that a whistle-blower had filed a complaint and urgent complaint that was being withheld from congress, and no one knew about this yet, I went public to demand that we get that complaint. I scheduled a hearing with the acting director to force the director to come in as I said at the time to explain to the American people why he was the first director to withhold a complaint from congress. That had the effect of forcing the White House to produce that complaint, which I then made public. That also had the effect of forcing them to release that call record. That’s what the president is furious with me about. The president believes that it is his god-given right to shake down foreign leaders for help in his re-election, and he should not be encumbered by the public finding out about it. That’s what has incensed the president. And I am willing to take the brunt of that. And I have to say once again how grateful I am to the courage of the whistle-blower. All I did was expose that complaint. The whistle-blower — had the whistle-blower not come forward, none of us would have known of the corrupt conduct the president of the United States was engaged in.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Final question, since then have other whistle-blowers come forward to your committee or to the inspector-general?
SCHIFF: I don’t want to comment on whether other whistle-blowers are coming forward to either us or to the inspector-general. All I can say is I would certainly hope that others, in particular those that the whistle-blower was referring to, would look at the courage that he or she has demonstrated and follow that example, because we are dependent on people of good conscious coming forward particularly now given that we have such an unscrupulous president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Chair, thanks for your time this morning.
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