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 early February 2017, Schiff tried to promote the narrative that former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, prior to Trump’s inauguration, may have violated the Logan Act by seeking, during a phone call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, to undercut then-President Obama’s existing sanctions against Russia. In its February 14, 2017 issue, The Atlantic magazine quoted Schiff saying: “Trump’s team, through Flynn, reaches out to the Russian ambassador and potentially says, ‘Don’t worry about those sanctions. We’re going to take care of business. We’re not going to bite the hand that fed us.’ That’s something that needs to be investigated. That’s hugely consequential.” But as investigative reporter John Solomon subsequently noted:
“By the time Schiff uttered those words, the FBI agent who had investigated Flynn’s contacts with Russia had already concluded on Jan. 4, 2017 that there was ‘no derogatory information’ about Flynn’s contacts and recommended closing down the case, according to recently declassified FBI memos. And … the FBI had informed DOJ by late January 2017 that Flynn was not acting as an agent of Russia. Likewise, the main prosecutor for national security cases inside the Justice Department, Mary McCord, and others thought prosecuting Flynn under the Logan Act was unlikely or a ‘long shot’ after reading Flynn’s actual words from a transcript of his conversation with the Russian ambassador [which had been secretly recorded by U.S. intelligence agents]…. And a top FBI official’s handwritten notes expressed concern the bureau’s treatment of Flynn amounted to ‘playing games’ and appeared to involve an effort to get him into an interview where he might [lie] so he could prosecuted or fired.”
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. For example:
For a video montage of numerous additional occasions when Schiff publicly stated that there was compelling evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, click here.
On January 29, 2018, Schiff issued a Democratic memo on the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe. That memo contained numerous false claims. Below, as catalogued by investigative journalist John Solomon, are some examples of those falsehoods, followed by facts that were later declassified and that contradicted the claims in the Schiff memo:
False Claim #1: “FBI and DOJ officials did not abuse the FISA process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign. … DOJ met the rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis needed to meet FISA’s probable cause requirement.”
Declassified Facts: Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 11, 2019, “I do not think the Department of Justice fairly treated these FISAs.” His report described how the FBI had violated its own rules in submitting four FISA applications with a total of 51 pieces of unverified, inaccurate or false information. “FBI personnel fell far short of the requirement in FBI policy that they ensure that all factual statements in a FISA application are ‘scrupulously accurate,’” he wrote. “We identified multiple instances in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation.”
False Claim #2: DOJ and FBI officials “made only narrow use of information from Steele’s sources about Page’s specific activities in 2016.”
Declassified Facts: Horowitz concluded that the Steele dossier had “played a central and essential role” in the FISA application. “The FISA request form drew almost entirely from Steele’s reporting in describing the factual basis to establish probable cause to believe that Page was an agent of a foreign power,” wrote Horowitz.
False Claim #3: “DOJ provided additional information obtained through multiple independent sources that corroborated Steele’s reporting.”
Declassified Facts: “We found that the FBI did not have information corroborating the specific allegations against Carter Page in Steele’s reporting when it relied upon his reports in the first FISA application or subsequent renewal applications,” Horowitz reported in December 2019.
John Solomon has pointed out yet another monumentally significant fact vis-a-vis the false statements that Schiff knowingly made:
“One of the revelations that most undercuts Schiff’s early embrace of the Steele dossier came … when footnotes declassified from the [December 2019] Horowitz report showed the U.S. intelligence community first warned that Steele was susceptible to Russian disinformation starting in 2015 and by early 2017 had specific information in his dossier traced to Russian Intelligence Services (RIS).
“’We identified reporting the Crossfire Hurricane team received from [REDACTED] indicating the potential for Russian disinformation influencing Steele’s election reporting,’ Horowitz wrote in one explosive footnote. ‘A January 12, 2017, report relayed information from [REDACTED] outlining an inaccuracy in a limited subset of Steele’s reporting about the activities of Michael Cohen. The [REDACTED] stated that it did not have high confidence in this subset of Steele’s reporting and assessed that the referenced subset was part of a Russian disinformation campaign to denigrate U.S. foreign relations.’
“’A second report from the same [REDACTED] five days later stated that a person named in the limited subset of Steele’s reporting had denied representations in the reporting and the [REDACTED] assessed that the person’s denials were truthful,’ the footnote added. ‘A USIC report dated February 27, 2017, contained information about an individual with reported connections to Trump and Russia who claimed that the public reporting about the details of Trump’s sexual activities in Moscow during a trip in 2013 were false, and that they were the product of RIS ‘infiltrating a source into the network’ of Steele.”
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 shown to be baseless and false.
On May 7, 2020, the full scope of Schiff’s lies about Trump-Russia “collusion” was further laid bare. On that date, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence was forced to release 57 pages of transcripts of testimony that had been delivered to the Committee in closed-door hearings during 2017-18 about the “collusion” matter. In those hearings, top Obama officials were questioned in sworn testimony, under oath, over whether they were in possession of, or had seen any, evidence of collusion, coordination or conspiracy between Trump and Russia. Some noteworthy quotes from those transcripts:
GOWDY: “Why don’t we go back to that sentence that I just asked you about. It says ‘the Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about their staff dealing with Russians.’ Well, how would you know what the U.S. government knew at that point? You didn’t work for it anymore], did you?”
FARKAS: “I didn’t.”
GOWDY: “Then how did you know?”
FARKAS: “I didn’t know anything.”
GOWDY: “Did you have information connecting the Trump campaign to the hack of the DNC?”
FARKAS: “No.” […]
GOWDY: “So when you say, ‘We knew,’ the reality is you knew nothing.”
GOWDY: “So when you say ‘knew,’ what you really meant was felt?”
GOWDY: “You didn’t know anything?”
FARKAS: “That’s correct.”
Throughout 2017-20, Schiff was fully aware of the fact that each of the aforementioned witnesses had clearly acknowledged that they possessed no evidence whatsoever of any Trump-Russia collusion. Yet Schiff continued to tell the media unequivocally that he had hard evidence of such collusion.
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.)
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.
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.”
In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on April 24, 2020 — at which point the U.S. death toll from the Chinese coronavirus pandemic had reached 50,000 — Schiff claimed that those deaths were due mostly to the fact that the Senate had failed to remove President Trump from office during the impeachment trial in early February:
“There is one thing that, really, I have to say haunts me from the trial… [E]essentially, house managers, you’ve proved him guilty [sic]. Does he really need to be removed [from office by the Senate] after all? We have an election in nine months. How much damage could he really do? And we posed that question to the Senate and we answered it by saying that he could do an awful lot of damage but frankly, Chris, I don’t think we had any idea how much damage he would go on to do in the months ahead. There are 50,000 Americans now who are dead, in significant part because of his incompetence, because of his inability to think beyond himself and put the country first. I don’t think we would have ever anticipated that his brand of narcissism and his brand of incompetence would be so fatal to the American people.”
In June 2020, a New York Times report citing anonymous officials who had been “briefed on the matter,” claimed that: (a) a Russian military intelligence unit had secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill American and coalition forces in Afghanistan; and (b) President Trump had been briefed on this but had taken no action. Replying to the allegations, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said: “The U.S. receives thousands of reports a day on intelligence, and they are subject to strict scrutiny. While the White House does not routinely comment on alleged intelligence or internal deliberations, the CIA Director, [the] National Security Advisor, and the Chief of Staff can all confirm that neither the President nor the Vice President were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence.” “There is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations, and, in effect, there are dissenting opinions from some in the intelligence community with regards to the veracity of what’s being reported,” she added. “And the veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated.”
Schiff, however, condemned President Trump for his inaction vis-a-vis the unverified allegations. He also demanded that the Trump administration brief all of Congress about those allegations. But several months earlier, in February 2020, top Intelligence Committee staff for Schiff had been briefed on the alleged Russian bounty offers, yet Schiff himself took no action in response to that briefing. When asked by a reporter whether he in fact had known of the intelligence before the publication of the New York Times story, Schiff answered: “I can’t comment on the specifics.”
As matters of principle, Schiff believes that: