- Democratic Member of the House of Representatives
- The lead investigator of the Democratic Party’s 2019 impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump
Adam Bennett Schiff was born to Jewish parents in Framingham, Massachusetts on June 22, 1960. After moving with his family to Danville, California during his high-school years, he went on to earn a BA in political science from Stanford University in 1982, and a JD from Harvard Law School in 1985. Upon completing his formal education, Schiff took a job as a law clerk for Judge William Matthew Byrne Jr. of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. He then served from 1987-93 as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.
Schiff tried to launch a political career in May 1994, when he ran as a Democrat in a special election to determine who would serve out the remaining few months of California State Assemblyman Pat Nolan’s term, after Nolan had been incarcerated for political corruption. But Schiff was defeated by Republican nominee James Rogan. That November, in the regular election for a full two-year term in the State Assembly, Schiff again lost to Rogan.
In 1996 Schiff was elected to represent the 21st District in the California State Senate, where he served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
In 1997 Schiff received a Henry Toll Fellowship for “leadership development.” Sponsored by the Council of State Governments (CSG), this award has long been heavily financed by the billionaire philanthropist George Soros and his Open Society Foundations (OSF). For instance, OSF gave $320,000 to CSG in 2003, and another $1.1 million in 2004.
In 2000, Schiff was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives by the voters in California’s 27th Congressional District, centered in the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles. His campaign recieved more than $100,000 in donations from the Soros-funded MoveOn.org. Other key supporters of Schiff’s campaign included the Council for a Livable World and the J Street Political Action Committee.
Schiff has been re-elected to the U.S. House every two years since then, though his District has been renumbered and reconfigured twice. Since 2013, it has been known as the 28th District of California.
In early 2013, Schiff was one of dozens of prominent leftists who urged President Barack Obama to award, posthumously, the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the late Fred Ross Sr., a Saul Alinsky-trained radical who had mentored both Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.
On a number of occasions, Schiff has shown an affinity for radical Islamist organizations. In September 2013, for example, he stated that the good work done “across the nation” by the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was “much appreciated.” In a similar spirit, Schiff said in October 2017 that “CAIR’s vision and mission is more important now than ever before – to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding, and [to] enhance understanding of Islam.” And on August 5, 2019, Schiff was a featured presenter at an interfaith community forum moderated by Salam Al-Marayati and co-sponsored by the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
In 2015 Schiff co-sponsored House Resolution 569, which was introduced by Rep. Don Beyer and was titled “Condemning Violence, Bigotry, and Hateful Rhetoric Towards Muslims in the United States.” Founded upon unsourced claims that America was experiencing a “rise of hateful and anti-Muslim speech, violence, and cultural ignorance,” this Resolution denounced the “disproportionate targeting” of “Muslim women who wear hijabs, headscarves, or other religious articles of clothing.”
In a March 22, 2017 interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Schiff claimed there was “more than circumstantial evidence” that Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign had colluded with Russian government operatives to tilt the election in his favor. When Todd asked Schiff if he had “seen direct evidence of collusion,” the congressman replied: “I don’t want to go into specifics, but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of investigation, so that is what we ought to do.” From that point forward, Schiff established himself as one of the Democrat Party’s leading voices demanding Trump’s impeachment, repeatedly proclaiming to the media that the evidence against the president was overwhelming. In December 2017, for example, Schiff told CNN: “The Russians offered help, the [Trump] campaign accepted help. The Russians gave help and the president made full use of that help. That is pretty damning, whether it is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of conspiracy or not.” And in May 2018, Schiff told ABC that the Russian trolling of Democratic National Committee emails was “like Watergate in the sense that you had a break in at the Democratic headquarters, in this case a virtual one, not a physical break in, and you had a president as part of a cover up.” The congressman subsequently said that Trump’s crime was of “a size and scope probably beyond Watergate.”
But when Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller finally released his exhaustive 448-page report on the Trump-Russia matter in April 2019, Schiff’s many claims about Trump’s undeniable guilt were all proven to be baseless and false.
Schiff Falls for Prank Phone Call from Russian Radio Host Posing As a Ukrainian Politician with Political Dirt on President Trump
On April 10, 2017, Russian radio hosts Vladimir Kuznetzov and Alexey Stolyarov — both of whom had close ties to the Kremlin — made a prank phone call to Schiff in which they together posed as Andriy Parubiy, the former speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, and offered to provide the congressman with damaging information about President Trump. Specifically, they claimed that Trump, while in Moscow for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, had engaged in a brief sexual affair with Russian model and singer Olga Buzova. “She got compromising materials on Trump after their short relations,” the callers told Schiff,
When Schiff then asked “what’s the nature” of the materials, the callers stated that the Kremlin was in possession of photos of a naked Trump as well as audio recordings of Miss Buzova and Russian journalist Ksenia Sobchak, whom they identified as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goddaughter, discussing the pictures. The pranksters also told Schiff that former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn had met with another Russian singer, Arkadiy Ukupnik, in a Brooklyn cafe to discuss the importance of keeping the aforementioned materials from being made public. “On that meeting, Ukupnik told Flynn that all those compromising materials will never be released if Trump will cancel all the Russian sanctions,” the caller told Schiff, noting also that Mr. Putin was fully aware of the entire scandal.
“So, you have recordings of both Sobchak and Buzova where they’re discussing the compromising material on Mr. Trump?” Schiff asked the callers. “Absolutely,” one of them replied. Schiff and the fake “Parubiy” went on to discuss numerous additional details of the fraudulent allegations, with Schiff asking a number of probing questions and expressing great interest. “Well, obviously we would welcome a chance to get copies of those recordings,” said the congressman, adding that he would not only “be in touch with the FBI about this,” but would also make the information known to the congressional committee that was investigating Trump’s alleged transgressions.
The recording of Schiff’s call with the pranksters was not discovered until Florida Republican congressman Matt Gaetz became aware of it in September 2019. (To listen to the conversation, click here.)
Schiff, Ukraine, and an Impeachment Inquiry Against President Trump
In May 2017, Schiff was one of a number of prominent and influential Democrats who spoke at a Washington, D.C. “ideas conference” organized by the Center for American Progress. This event emphasized the need for Democrats to unite in uncompromising “resistance” against Trump while also developing “new, fresh, bold, provocative ideas that can move us forward.”
On November 16, 2018, Schiff – who was slated to become Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on January 3, 2019 – gave an exclusive, closed-door briefing to members of the Democracy Alliance, a major group of wealthy Democrat funders who were, among other things, passionately dedicated to goal of crippling the Trump presidency.
On August 12, 2019, an unidentified, so-called “whistleblower” from the CIA filed a complaint in which he expressed his own “urgent concern” regarding a July 25, 2019 phone conversation between President Trump and Ukraine’s newly elected President, Volodymyr Zelensky. According to this informant – whom journalist Paul Sperry subsequently identified as 33-year-old Eric Ciaramella – Trump on July 25th had asked Zelensky to investigate why Ukraine in 2016, under pressure from then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, had fired its Prosecutor General, Viktor Shokin. At issue was the fact that Shokin in 2016 had been actively investigating corruption by Burisma Holdings – a Ukrainian natural gas company whose board of directors included Mr. Biden’s son. According to Schiff and other opponents of President Trump, Ciaramella’s complaint provided evidence that Trump – as a precondition to America’s disbursement of nearly $400 million in congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine – was now trying to pressure Zelensky to dig up political dirt on the Bidens. Ciaramella’s claim, which was based entirely on hearsay rather than firsthand observation, was quickly discredited when Trump publicly released a summary transcript of his July 25 dialog with Zelensky. Nevertheless, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Democrats would initiate an impeachment inquiry against the President. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff would be the lead investigator.
For details about Ciaramella’s complaint, and about the testimony of the various impeachment-hearing witnesses, click here.
Schiff initially told reporters that he had not spoken directly with the whistleblower prior to the latter’s filing of his August 12 complaint. But the congressman’s claim was subsequently proven false by a New York Times story showing that Schiff actually had known about Ciaramella’s allegations before the complaint was even filed.
When the whistleblower allegations against Trump first came to light, Thomas Eager, a staffer for Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee, was also active as a Fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Congressional Fellowship. The Atlanta Council is a think tank that has been funded variously by such entities as Burisma Holdings (the Ukrainian natural gas company on whose board Vice President Biden’s son had sat), Google LLC, George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the U.S. State Department, and the international law firm Perkins Coie.
- NOTE: In 2016, Perkins Coie retained the research and strategic-intelligence firm Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Fusion GPS, in turn, hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to compile a dossier of allegations suggesting that Trump and his campaign had actively colluded with the Russian government to tilt the 2016 election in Trump’s favor. This opposition research/dossier was funded by three major sources: (a) Obama For America (OFA), Barack Obama’s official campaign arm, which paid Perkins Coie nearly $800,000 for “legal services” in 2016; (b) Hillary Clinton’s official campaign organization, Hillary For America, which paid just under $5.1 million to Perkins Coie in 2016; and (c) the Democratic National Committee, which paid nearly $5.4 million to Perkins Coie in 2016.
Yet another noteworthy Schiff staffer, Sean Misko, had joined Schiff’s office at the House Intelligence Committee on July 26, 2019 – seventeen days before his close friend, Eric Ciaramella, filed his complaint against Trump. Like Thomas Eager, Misko also had ties to the Atlantic Council, where he had served as a yearlong “Millennium Fellow” in 2015. Moreover, Misko had donated money to the Atlantic Council in 2016. And prior to taking his job in Schiff’s office, Misko had worked in the Obama-era State Department under Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Jake Sullivan.
When addressing the House Intelligence Committee on September 27, 2019, Schiff grossly misrepresented the substance and tenor of President Trump’s July 25 conversation with Zelensky. After announcing that he intended to outline “the essence” of what Trump had communicated to Zelensky in that conversation, the congressman proceeded to blur the lines between words he was quoting directly from the transcript of Trump’s remarks, and words that represented Schiff’s own analysis or commentary. The net effect of this, was to depict Trump as the political equivalent of a mafia kingpin. Some key excerpts from Schiff’s statement:
“President Zelensky, eager to establish himself at home as the friend of the president of the most powerful nation on earth, had at least two objectives: get a meeting with the president and get more military help. And so what happened on that call? Zelensky begins by ingratiating himself, and he tries to enlist the support of the president. He expresses his interest in meeting with the president, and says his country wants to acquire more weapons from us to defend itself. And what is the President’s response?
“Well, it reads like a classic organized crime shakedown. Shorn of its rambling character and in not so many words, this is the essence of what the President communicates: We’ve been very good to your country. Very good. No other country has done as much as we have. But you know what? I don’t see much reciprocity here. I hear what you want. I have a favor I want from you, though. And 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, on this and on that. I’m going to put you in touch with people, and not just any people. I’m going to put you in touch with the attorney general of the United States, my attorney general, Bill Barr. He’s got the whole weight of the American law enforcement behind him. And I’m going to put you in touch with Rudy [Giuliani]. You’re going to love him. Trust me. You know what I’m asking? And so I’m only going to say this a few more times in a few more ways. And by the way, don’t call me again. I’ll call you when you’ve done what I asked.”
“This is, in sum and character, what the [U.S.] President was trying to communicate with the President of Ukraine,” Schiff continued. “It would be funny if it wasn’t such a graphic betrayal of the President’s oath of office. But as it does represent a real betrayal, there’s nothing the President says here that is in America’s interest after all.”
Speaking to reporters on the same matter, Schiff said: “What those [transcript] notes reflect is a classic mafia-like shakedown of a foreign leader…. This is how a mafia boss talks. ‘What have you done for us? We’ve done so much for you, but there’s not much reciprocity. I have a favor I want to ask you.’ And what is that favor? Of course, the favor is to investigate his political rival; to investigate the Bidens.”
After conducting extensive impeachment-inquiry hearings in October and November of 2019, Schiff and his House Intelligence Committee released a 300-page report on December 3. As journalist Joel Pollak wrote at Breitbart.com, that report cited “no constitutionally permissible grounds for impeachment against President Donald Trump — other than tweets.” Noting that Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution provides that impeachment shall be for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” Pollak added:
“Notably, though Schiff and others attempted to argue that the president had possibly committed ‘bribery’ by allegedly asking the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for U.S. aid, there is no discussion of bribery whatsoever in the report — other than references to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s claims that Biden might be guilty of bribery because his son was on the payroll of Ukrainian gas giant Burisma.
“The only references to any ‘crimes’ allegedly committed by the president is a discussion of ‘witness intimidation.’ Schiff and his Democrat majority attempt to argue that President Trump committed that crime by tweeting criticism of several witnesses against him, including calling them ‘Never Trumpers’ and drawing attention to their testimony. […]
“The report also cites, in a general sense, the crimes of ‘obstructing Congress,’ ‘concealing material facts,’ and ‘retaliating against employees who provide information to Congress.’ Democrats provide no real evidence to support the latter two charges. […] So instead of ‘Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,’ Democrats are trying to impeach the president on the basis of tweets he posted in his own defense against their own, arguably partisan, inquisition.”
Schiff’s Positions on Key Political Issues
As matters of principle, Schiff believes that:
- all women should have an unrestricted right to abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy – subsidized by taxpayers, in cases of economic hardship;
- public and private employers alike should be legally required to implement affirmative-action hiring and promotion policies that give preference to African Americans and women, as compensation for historical injustices;
- the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is an excellent statute that can serve a strategic stepping stone toward the eventual implementation of a government-run, single-payer healthcare system;
- the principle of church-state separation is inviolable and should preclude permitting prayer in the public schools, or the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places;
- voucher programs designed to enable low-income parents to send their children to private schools rather than to failing public schools, constitute bad policy because they rob the public schools of vital resources;
- the death penalty is applied in a racially discriminatory manner, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, and should be abolished;
- more guns in the hands of private citizens inevitably result in higher levels of crime, thus the availability of firearms should be restricted by whatever means are effective;
- wealthy people should be required to pay much higher tax rates than those who earn less;
- restrictions on immigration are basically racist because they tend to prevent Hispanics and other non-whites from entering the United States;
- social services should be available to all U.S. residents regardless of their immigration status;
- illegal aliens should be offered amnesty if they have been productive members of society;
- voter ID laws are, by and large, racially motivated attempts to suppress minority voting and should be eliminated;
- an ever-increasing reliance on “green energy” sources such as wind and solar should be put in place, along with the phasing out of fossil fuels, the imposition of carbon taxes, and the raising of vehicle CAFE standards;
- federal spending on infrastructure projects and job programs is crucial to the success of any economic recovery program;
- the nationalization of banks and corporations is preferable to federal bailouts of those entities.