Sohn: 'You might think it's OK.' We don't.

Sohn: 'You might think it's OK.' We don't.

March 30th, 2019 by Pam Sohn in Opinion Times

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) at a hearing at the Capitol on Thursday.

Photo by Erin Schaff

The purpose of the hearing on Thursday was simple. Its promising title said it all: "Putin's Playbook: The Kremlin's Use of Oligarchs, Money and Intelligence in 2016 and Beyond."

We say it was promising because it seemed to signal that finally members of Congress were going to get serious — and perhaps unpolitical — about Russian interference in our elections and our politics — maybe even our social media.

But, no. Congressional Republicans picked up President Donald Trump's vengeance drumbeat, and Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, introduced a letter signed by every Republican on the House Intelligence Committee to publicly call for committee chairman Adam Schiff, D-California, to resign because he told The Washington Post "undoubtedly there is collusion" between the Trump campaign and a foreign government, notwithstanding Barr's report.

Quietly and calmly, Schiff, a former U.S. prosecutor, shifted gears to respond to that call rather than moving on, as the GOP has asked, to fact-finding on Russians. And we're glad.

We're glad the GOP chose again to be small, because Schiff's compelling, two- or three-minute response — an oration, really — became what we believe should be remembered as the opening argument for rediscovering our country's conscience.

Here is his argument almost in its entirety:

"My colleagues may think it's OK that the Russians offered dirt on a Democratic candidate for president as part of what was described as the Russian government's effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that's OK.

"My colleagues might think it's OK that when that was offered to the son of the president, who had a pivotal role in the campaign, that the president's son did not call the FBI. He did not adamantly refuse that foreign help. No, instead that son said that he would 'love' the help of the Russians. You might think it's OK that he took that meeting.

"You might think it's OK that Paul Manafort, the campaign chair, someone with great experience in running campaigns, also took that meeting. You might think it's OK that the president's son-in-law also took that meeting. You might think it's OK they concealed it from the public.

"You might think it's OK that their only disappointment after they took that meeting was that the dirt they got on Hillary Clinton wasn't better. You might think that's OK.

"You might think it's OK that, when it was discovered a year later, that they then lied about that meeting and said it was about adoptions. You might think it's OK that the president is reported to have helped dictate that lie. You might think that's OK. I don't.

"You might think its OK that the campaign chairman of a presidential campaign would offer information about that campaign to a Russian oligarch in exchange for money or debt forgiveness. You might think that's OK. I don't.

"You might think it's OK that that campaign chairman offered polling data — campaign polling data — to someone linked to Russian intelligence. I don't think that's OK."

"You might think it's OK that the president himself called on Russia to hack his opponent's emails if they were listening. You might think it's OK that later that day in fact the Russians attempted to hack a server affiliated with that campaign. I don't think that's OK.

"You might think it's OK that the president's son-in-law sought to establish a secret back channel of communications with the Russians through a Russian diplomatic facility. I don't think that's OK.

"You might think it's OK that an associate of the president made direct contact with the GRU through Guccifer2 and WikiLeaks and that that is considered a hostile intelligence agency. You might think it's OK that a senior campaign official was instructed to reach that associate and find out what that hostile intelligence agency had to say in terms of dirt on his opponent.

"You might think it's OK that the National Security Adviser designate secretly conferred with the Russian ambassador about undermining U.S. sanctions, and you might think it's OK that he lied about it to the FBI.

"You might say that's all OK. You might say that's just what you need to do to win.

"But I don't think it's OK.

"I think it's immoral, I think it's unethical, I think it's unpatriotic, and yes, I think it's corrupt. And evidence of collusion.

"Now I have always said that the question of whether this amounts to proof of conspiracy was another matter. Whether the special counsel could prove beyond a reasonable doubt the proof of that crime would be up to the special counsel and I would accept his decision. And I do. He is a good and an honorable man, and he is a good prosecutor.

"But I do not think that conduct — criminal or not — is OK. And the day we do think that's OK is the day we will look back and say that is the day America lost its way. "

We agree, and we urge Americans to help each one of their Congress members and senators to rethink their duty toward us and our country.

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