Morgan Ortagus, a former State Department spokeswoman, intensely questioned Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) during an episode of ABC’s “The View” on Tuesday morning. Morgan Ortagus was in The View lineup to replace former conservative host Meghan McCain. She 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.
She grilled the Democrat from California over his past promotion of the now widely debunked Steele Dossier.
Schiff was there to promote his new book, Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could. He fielded primarily friendly questions from the show’s four left-leaning co-hosts before Morgan Ortagus, former spokesperson for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a one-time contributor to Fox News, began to grill him.
Ortagus began by asking if he regretted talking up the Steele dossier in the wake of the latest indictment secured by special counsel John Durham.
“You’ve been really prolific over the past few years being the head of the Intel Committee and you defended, promoted, you even read into the Congressional Record the Steele Dossier,” Ortagus said. “And we know last week, the main source of the dossier was indicted by the FBI for lying about most of the key claims in that dossier.”
Ortagus then took direct aim at Schiff, asking him if he had any reflections on his role in promoting this to the American People.
Instead of facing the direct question, Schiff quickly deflected it by lashing out at former President Donald Trump. He had not even been asked about Trump, but he responded by continuing to promote conspiracy theories related to Russia.
Schiff responded that anyone who lied to the FBI or Steele should be prosecuted and sent to jail if convicted, “unlike in the Trump administration.”
Ortagus did not relent, saying that Schiff had made false statements and spread disinformation for years by promoting what was in the dossier. She said that people had entrusted him as the Intel Committee chair and they were confused about his own culpability in this matter.
Rep. Schiff would not accept the very premise of Ortagus’ question. He also declared that it was “impossible” to have been able to foresee in advance that people were lying to Christopher Steele and furthering political gossip.
Schiff did not want to use that as a smokescreen to somehow shield Donald Trump’s culpability for inviting Russia to help him in the election. He also brought up that he believes Trump’s team was trying to coerce Ukraine into helping him in the next election.
Schiff made this comment, “None of that is undercut, none of that serious misconduct is in any way diminished by the fact that people lied to Christopher Steele.”
And Ortagus immediately responded with, “No, I think just your credibility is.”
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.
The FBI has notes of a January 2017 interview with Danchenko. They show that he told the bureau he “did not know the origins” of some of Steele’s claims and “did not recall” other dossier information. The defendant 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 the information 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.