Morgan Ortagus, who is in the View lineup to replace former conservative host Meghan McCain, confronted Schiff on Tuesday for flooding the airwaves with talk of Steele’s research on alleged ties between former President Donald Trump ‘s 2016 campaign and Russia.
“You defended, promoted — you even ran into the congressional record — the Steele dossier,” Ortagus said. “We know last that the main source of the dossier was indicted by the FBI for lying about most of the key claims in that dossier. Do you have any reflections on your role in promoting that to the American people?”
“Whoever lied to the FBI or lied to Christopher Steele should be prosecuted — and they are,” Schiff responded. “Unlike in the Trump administration, if they’re convicted, they should go to jail and not be pardoned. Donald Trump pardoned Roger Stone for lying, he pardoned Michael Flynn for lying — if people lie to the FBI, they should go to jail.”
The interview took place after the third indictment in special counsel John Durham’s investigation. Igor Danchenko, a U.S.-based, Russian-born analyst who was the main source for Steele’s anti-Trump dossier, was charged with making false statements to the FBI. He has indicated that he plans to plead not guilty .
FBI notes of a January 2017 interview with Danchenko showed that he told the bureau he “did not know the origins” of some of Steele’s claims and “did not recall” other dossier information. He told the FBI that Steele mischaracterized at least one of his Russian source contacts and noted that much of what he gave to Steele was “word of mouth and hearsay,” some of which stemmed from a “conversation that [he] had with friends over beers,” and the most salacious allegations may have been made in “jest.” Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Danchenko “contradicted the allegations of a ‘well-developed conspiracy’ in” Steele’s dossier.
Schiff insisted lawmakers “couldn’t have known” if people were lying to Steele, so it was “proper” to investigate them.
“But you helped spread disinformation for years by promoting this,” Ortagus said, adding that people had “entrusted” him as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Schiff disagreed with that “premise.”
“It’s one thing to say allegations should be investigated, and they were,” he said. “It’s another to say that we should have foreseen in advance that some people were lying to Christopher Steele, which isn’t possible, of course, to do. But let’s not use that as a smokescreen to somehow shield Donald Trump’s culpability for inviting Russia to help him in the election, which they did, for trying to course Ukraine into helping him in the next election, which he did, and to inciting an insurrection, which he did.”
He added, “None of that is undercut — none of that serious misconduct is in any way diminished by the fact that people lied to Christopher Steele.”
“No, I think just your credibility is,” Ortagus replied.
Ortagus was previously the spokeswoman for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.