On ABC News’ “This Week” yesterday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) asked some pertinent questions about Donald Trump, his team, and the Russia scandal: “If there were innocent explanations for all of this, why all the lies? Why all the repeated efforts to get Russian help?”
Schiff added, “And of course, you have this symmetry of interests here, where Donald Trump wants help from the Russians with his campaign, he wants help from the Russians to build this lucrative Moscow Tower, and the Russians want help from Donald Trump – they want sanctions relief – and all of this is going on at the same time.”
Well, sure, when you put it that way, it starts to sound pretty bad.
But just as interesting was a written statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) – released fairly late on Friday night (between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.) – about Roger Stone’s criminal indictment. It read in its entirety:
“The indictment of Roger Stone makes clear that there was a deliberate, coordinated attempt by top Trump campaign officials to influence the 2016 election and subvert the will of the American people. It is staggering that the President has chosen to surround himself with people who violated the integrity of our democracy and lied to the FBI and Congress about it.
“In the face of 37 indictments, the President’s continued actions to undermine the Special Counsel investigation raise the questions: what does Putin have on the President, politically, personally or financially? Why has the Trump Administration continued to discuss pulling the U.S. out of NATO, which would be a massive victory for Putin?
“Lying to Congress and witness tampering constitute grave crimes. All who commit these illegal acts should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. We cannot allow any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from appearing before Congress.
“The Special Counsel investigation is working, and the House will continue to exercise our constitutional oversight responsibility and ensure that the Special Counsel investigation can continue free from interference from the White House.”
Pelosi issued a nearly identical statement via a Twitter thread around the same time.
It’s possible that this went largely overlooked because of the statement’s timing: as a rule, developments that unfold late on a Friday night tend to be ignored. But given the questions raised by a sitting House Speaker about an ongoing White House scandal, it’s probably a mistake to brush past what Pelosi said too quickly.
“What does Putin have on the President, politically, personally or financially?” For those of us who follow politics on a day-to-day basis, this may seem like a fairly obvious question to raise, but let’s not miss the forest for the trees: the day another one of the president’s close associates was taken into FBI custody, Congress’ top lawmaker asked – in print, for all to see – whether the head of a foreign adversary has compromised the American president.
This did not cause much of a stir. Maybe it should have?