Rep. Adam Schiff: Democrats Meeting Ukrainians "Different Degree Of Involvement" Than Trump-Russia

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ON ABC's 'This Week' substitute host Jonathan Karl asked Rep. Adam Schiff, the top ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, about a POLITICO article alleging that Democrats sought similar help from Ukraine at the same time the Russians were allegedly "colluding" with the Trump campaign.

Ukraine and Russia have been in a de facto state of war since February 2014, when a U.S. and E.U. (Euromaiden) backed government overthrew a Russian puppet regime in Kiev. As a result, the Russians seized the vital military port of Crimea from the Ukrainians and funded a low-level insurgency in the mostly Russian-speaking Eastern part of the country. Hillary Clinton was not Secretary of State in 2014, but Vladimir Putin blamed her for laying the groundwork for what happened in Ukraine, and for interfering in his own election in past years. POLITICO reported in January that during the 2016 election, "Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office," mainly because they were afraid he would stop offering Ukraine the support against Russia that it had gotten from the Obama administration.

"A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia," according to the article.

In his interview Sunday, Schiff acknowledged that if the substance of the article were true, it would be "problematic," but he argued that it is a completely different "scale."

He explained: "It would be problematic to get any kind of support from a foreign government. But again I think to compare the two is like a bit like comparing bank robbery with writing a check with insufficient funds. Both appropriate money from the bank improperly, but a very different degree of seriousness and involvement in the case by a foreign government."

"It would be appropriate for the Democrats to get help from the Ukrainian government. But I think if you look at the Politico article, and we're talking about just a single article here, if you accept all the facts in the article, the scale of what the Russians did is not comparable to anything in that article," he said.

"The comparable analogy would be that the Ukrainian president directed the Ukrainian intelligence agencies to steal, to hack, Donald Trump's campaign, steal e-mails, publish them, directed a social media army to influence the election, and sat down -- its representatives sat down with Chelsea Clinton and John Podesta in which they indicated they wanted the dirt op Donald Trump," Schiff explained hypothetically.

KARL: OK, you've heard they've also pointed to this issue with the Democratic Party and the Ukrainian embassy.

This comes from a story in Politico that ran in January, the headline "Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire."

And I want to read from the article, "a Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the DNC met with top officials in the Ukrainian embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia. The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in this race, helping force Manafort's resignation and advancing the narrative that the Trump campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine's foe to the east, Russia."

So, let me ask you -- I understand Hillary Clinton lost, and I understand this effort was not as elaborate as the Russian effort, but was it acceptable, or would it have been acceptable for the Democrats to accept help from the Ukrainian government in this campaign?

SCHIFF: No, it would be appropriate for the Democrats to get help from the Ukrainian government. But I think if you look at the Politico article, and we're talking about just a single article here, if you accept all the facts in the article, the scale of what the Russians did is not comparable to anything in that article. If it were, the comparable analogy would be that the Ukrainian president directed the Ukrainian intelligence agencies to steal, to hack, Donald Trump's campaign, steal e-mails, publish them, directed a social media army to influence the election, and sat down -- its representatives sat down with Chelsea Clinton and John Podesta in which they indicated they wanted the dirt op Donald Trump.

There's no suggestion anything of that magnitude.

KARL: So the scale is different. You acknowledge that. But the meeting is problematic? This Ukrainian meeting is problematic, in your eyes?

SCHIFF: Well, it would be problematic to get any kind of support from a foreign government. But again I think to compare the two is like a bit like comparing bank robbery with writing a check with insufficient funds. Both appropriate money from the bank improperly, but a very different degree of seriousness and involvement in the case by a foreign government.

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