Boy, if you wanted a perfect metaphor for the entire Russia investigation, you couldn’t write one better than this. Move over, Project Veritas; move over, Jesse Waters. You’ve got nothing on the Russian pranksters Vovan and Lexus, radio comedians who succeeded last year in making an absolute fool out of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
You know Schiff. He’s the one who is always on TV telling Rachel Maddow and the rest of gullible America that Trump is really, really, really guilty of…something. The one who thinks it’s an outrage that Devin Nunes told the country that Carter Page’s FISA warrant was improperly obtained. The one who really believes that, when it’s all said and done, he will stand tall and proud and be recognized as the patriotic hero that he is.
We knew he was dumb; we just didn’t know he was this dumb.
In April of 2017, Schiff received a “long-awaited” phone call from Andriy Parubiy, the chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament, who promised he had some juicy information about the Russian “kompromat” Vladimir Putin had on President Trump. This would have been a momentous turn in the investigation, if only for one little problem: Schiff wasn’t on the phone with Parubiy. Or anyone else in the Ukrainian leadership, for that matter. He was on the phone with the pranksters, and they were having a field day with his gullibility.
On the call, “Parubiy” told Schiff a fanciful story of the time Trump came to Moscow in 2013 to host the Miss Universe pageant. At that time, the Kremlin, via “Russian journalist and celebrity Knesia Sobchak,” furnished Trump with a special celebrity escort, ex-Playboy model Olga Buzova. According to the pranksters, Buzova is actually a “special agent of Russian secret service.” Long story short, the two of them had sex, Buzova acquired “compromising materials on Trump” over the course of their one-night stand, and now the evidence was sitting in Putin’s hot little hands.
“There were pictures of naked Trump,” the prankster solemnly informed the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
“And so Putin was made aware of the availability of the compromising material?” Schiff asked.
“Yes, of course,” the “Ukrainian leader” replied. He told Schiff that as long as Trump lifted the U.S. sanctions on Russia, those materials would never see the light of day.
The prankster told him that Ukrainian officials had recorded Sobchak and Buzov discussing all of this in a recent visit to Ukraine and that they would do everything they could to get the recordings to the House committee, via the FBI.
The problem, of course, isn’t that Schiff took this call or even that he acted interested. It was that he fell for it hook, line, and sinker, and directed his staff to coordinate with the pranksters in an effort to secure the bombshell material they promised. Once the story was released, a spokesman for Schiff tried to pretend that they knew the call was BS from the start, but emails show otherwise.
“I understand Mr. Schiff had a productive call with Mr. Parubiy, and that Mr. Parubiy would like to make some materials available to Mr. Schiff through your Embassy,” a top member of Schiff’s staff wrote to the pranksters a day or two after the call.
Um, that doesn’t sound like someone who thinks they’ve been had. That sounds like someone who thinks her boss is on the verge of blowing the Russian investigation wide open.
And this is really the problem. It’s not that Schiff got fooled by a prankster; that seems to happen to nearly everyone in the public eye these days. It’s embarrassing, but it’s not the end of the world. The problem is that this incident betrays Schiff’s credulity; he is literally willing to believe anything if it matches the narrative in his head. And that makes him a very poor choice to be the Democrats’ point man on this investigation.
Of course, looking at the rest of the field, we’re not sure anyone would do better. The party as a whole IS Schiff right now, all of them willing to believe anything and everything as long as it tells them what they already “know” in their hearts: That Trump is evil, that he’s hopelessly compromised by the Russians, and that he will soon go down in flames. They may have figured out that Schiff’s call with Ukrainian leaders was fake, but they still haven’t realized that the goddamn DOSSIER is the biggest prank of them all!
If they weren’t on the verge of overthrowing American democracy, you would almost have to laugh.