This Democrat May Be the Most Ambitious in Congress

Op-ed in hometown newspaper roasts media-hog lawmaker: 'Don't get between him and a TV camera'

A contributor to the Orange County Register is warning readers to get out of Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) way when there’s a TV crew in the area.

“The District of Columbia may be a perennial target for international terrorists, have a sky-high crime rate ,and extreme weather conditions,” wrote John Phillips in an op-ed Thursday. “But there is no question that in 2017 the most dangerous place to be standing in our nation’s Capitol is between California Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, and a television camera.”

“Schiff faces potential electoral threats, not from Republicans, but from fellow Democrats running to his left.”

Phillips, a Los Angeles-based talk radio host, goes on to talk about how Schiff, a “previously obscure” nine-term congressman from Southern California, is now basking in glow of fame from being President Donald Trump’s “chief antagonist” on the House Intelligence Committee.

“It is this platform that gets Schiff television bookings to advance his unproven theory that President Trump colluded with the Russians in the 2016 presidential election,” writes Phillips. “The more reckless the allegation, the more TV time he gets.”

Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has accused Russia of an “attack” on American democracy, referring to the accusation that Russian-linked hackers infiltrated Democratic National Committee computers and accessed Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails.

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Emails from DNC computers and from Podesta’s email account were released by WikiLeaks and revealed damaging information about the Democrats, including that the DNC was colluding with the Hillary Clinton campaign during the tight Democratic primary and working to damage her rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). They also revealed CNN commentator and Democratic operative Donna Brazile passed town hall questions to the Clinton campaign in advance, raising serious concerns about media collusion to boost Clinton in on-air contests with Sanders.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has said repeatedly and adamantly that the DNC emails and Podesta emails WikiLeaks published did not come from Russia, or from any “state actor.”

In an interview with Democracy Now on April 10, he knocked down Schiff’s theories, saying there were thousands of incidents of hacking and attempted hacking prior to the election, and that this is a normal occurrence in election years.

“Mr. Schiff is a Democratic congressman who’s trying to whip up a kind of neo-McCarthyist fervor in order to distract from the epic failure of Hillary Clinton and that team when they lost, of all people, to Donald Trump,” he told hosts Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales.

“If there hadn’t been an ugly truth there, it wouldn’t have made any difference.”

One of the ugliest truths revealed in one of the DNC emails was that DNC staff were looking at using the issue of Sanders’ religion and/or ethnicity to tarnish him in West Virginia and Kentucky. One of the top staffers at the DNC, CFO Brad Marshall, wrote in an email to two other top staffers that it would be more damaging to Sanders to communicate to voters that he is an atheist, a non-believer, rather than Jewish, and said they should “get someone” — a friendly journalist, presumably — to ask Sanders about it.

Phillips, in his op-ed in the Orange County Register, theorizes that Schiff may be worked into such a tizzy about Trump and Russia for reasons of political survival. Schiff was originally elected in 2001 in a Republican district north of Los Angeles and promised to govern as a conservative-to-moderate Democrat. But after the 2010 census he was pushed into the much more liberal 28th district, which includes West Hollywood and part of central Los Angeles.

“This means that Schiff faces potential electoral threats, not from Republicans, but from fellow Democrats running to his left,” Phillips wrote.

But aside from worries over a potential primary challenge, Schiff has also been the subject of significant speculation that he may mount a Senate bid in the eventual event of a retirement from Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.)

“[Running for statewide office is] certainly something I’ve thought about in the past and may think about in the future, but I have a pretty full plate as it is,” Schiff told Politico in an April 21 report.

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The House Intelligence Committee held a hearing on March 20 as part of its investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election, with Schiff, in his introductory remarks, pointing a finger at Trump associates Carter Page and Roger Stone and calling the president’s claim that Trump Tower was wiretapped by President Obama a “slanderous accusation.”

It has since been revealed that the FBI, under the Obama administration, sought a warrant from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, a former investment banker for Merrill Lynch who had worked out of Merrill Lynch’s office in Moscow and subsequently opened his own consulting firm in New York.

Thursday, news broke that the Obama administration searched thousands of records of emails and phone calls involving Americans and distributed this information to many other people in the government, with the names of Americans unredacted, in the middle of the 2016 election. The news was released by the office of the Director of National Intelligence on May 2.

The NSA is forbidden by law from spying on Americans, but intelligence agencies have a way to get around this. They can target foreigners who may be talking to Americans they would like to spy on, and then, if caught, claim that the information on the Americans was collected incidentally — or “not wittingly.”

The Obama administration submitted a total of 30,355 queries for information about U.S. citizens in 2016, according to the DNI transparency report, compared to just 9,500 in 2013.

Rep. Schiff has not commented on the DNI report as of Friday.