Adam Schiff refused to comment on the accuracy of a report about the government surveillance of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, but nevertheless cited it to criticize acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell.
The California Democrat referred to the Washington Post, citing former U.S. officials, reporting last week that the FBI, not the National Security Agency, wiretapped Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s calls with Trump’s then-incoming national security adviser on Dec. 29, 2016, and made a summary and transcript.
He stressed to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that the report presents inconvenient “facts” for Grenell, exposing him as a hyperpartisan who is “selectively” declassifying unmasking material to damage President Trump’s political opponents — the heart of what Trump and his allies have dubbed the “Obamagate” scandal.
“There’s a published report, and I can’t comment on whether it’s accurate or not, that Flynn’s name may never have been masked to begin with,” Schiff told Maddow on Friday. “That really blows a big hole in what Grenell has been trying to do, which is establish some theory that they [the Obama administration] were trying to unmask Flynn so that they could, I don’t know, persecute Flynn and now there are public reports that he wasn’t masked to begin with in that call with the Russians.”
“This is the problem when I think you’re trying to weave an alternate history, and that is: the facts keep getting in the way,” he added.
Former Rep. Trey Gowdy, who was a lead GOP investigator for the intelligence panel, spoke on Fox News and told them that he recalled the FBI telling Congress “there were multiple calls, and some of the transcripts didn’t come through.” Gowdy also recently named news outlets and reporters he believes accepted leaks from Schiff for stories to “perpetrate this fraud” about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to FBI investigators about his conversations with Kislyak regarding a United Nations resolution on Israel and sanctions. But Flynn now claims he was set up by the FBI, and the Justice Department is seeking to drop the case.
All this comes after Grenell forced Adam Schiff’s hand to release dozens of witness interview transcripts from the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation.
The Washington Examiner reported that the transcripts showed several top intelligence, law enforcement, and national security officials from the Obama administration saying they had not seen evidence of collusion even as the California Democrat insisted in public that such evidence did exist.