What: A fiery piece of speechifying.
Who: Congressman Adam Schiff, head of the House Intelligence Committee.
Why we care: The president was not led out of the Oval Office in handcuffs this week, following the completion of the long-awaited Mueller report, so you know what that means: Neither Donald Trump nor anyone in his orbit has ever done anything wrong, ever. Or at least that’s the way he and his supporters would portray it.
Although the report, which has as yet to be released to Congress, pointedly did not exonerate the president of obstruction, Team Trump has been suspended in a state of ecstatic gloating all week. One would think these people thought that simply not being charged with a crime definitively proved zero culpability whatsoever for the accused; well, one would indeed think that, if the same people crowing about Trump’s unquestionable innocence weren’t also simultaneously foaming at the mouth about Jussie Smollett being cleared of all charges.
When Trump’s colleagues haven’t been boasting about this week’s good tidings, they’ve been on the warpath, lashing out at anyone who ever dared suspect anything shady happened related to an investigation that produced 37 indictments and five convictions of Trump associates, with a sixth (Roger Stone) still awaiting trial. How dare anyone think anything about Trump’s 2016 campaign seems suspicious! What is this, Benghazi?
In any case, the fallout from the investigation not resulting in Trump’s immediate arrest continued on Thursday morning when Republican members from the House Intelligence Committee presented chairman Schiff with a letter asking him to resign.
Schiff was not having it, though.
In a cinematic moment that likely has Aaron Sorkin seething with writerly jealousy, Schiff sat at his lectern and with barely muted fury recited a laundry list of irrefutable facts (hey, remember facts?) about Russiagate that should give every American pause.
“My colleagues might think it’s okay that the Russians offered dirt on a Democratic candidate for president as part of what’s been described as an effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that’s okay,” he starts, establishing a motif. “You might think it’s okay that when that dirt was offered to the president’s son, who played a pivotal role in the campaign, that the president’s son did not call the FBI or adamantly refuse. No, instead he said he would love it.”
Schiff keeps on naming particulars for over two minutes, and barely scratches the surface of everything shady that took place between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Hell, he doesn’t even mention the fairly recent news that Donald Trump was still pursuing Trump Tower Moscow well into his campaign, despite declaring many times, “I have no business dealings with Russia,” while also refusing to release any financial records.
Schiff doesn’t have to mention all that, though. He knows the impossibility of swaying those who have yet been swayed. Instead, he’s simply making the point about why he refuses to apologize for being suspicious of smoke that is clearly attached to a fire.
Watch the clip below.