At the start of Monday morning's landmark public hearing into the ties between Donald Trump, his associates, and Russia during lats year's presidential election, Representative Adam Schiff — the Ranking Democratic member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence — gave a short speech in which he spelled out the relevant facts of the scandal — a 15-minute rundown that sums up the case for those who may still be unfamiliar with or confused by what happened, and what is known on the public record.
Schiff, 56, represents California's 28th Congressional District and has served in the United States Congress since 2001. Read the full text of Schiff's remarks at the start of the historic hearing, a rare public hearing for the House Intelligence Committee which generally conducts its business behind closed doors, by visiting this link.
Or view Schiff giving his remarks at the hearing in the video below.
The hearing can reasonably be deemed historic primarily due to the confirmation by Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey that the FBI is currently investigating Donald Trump and members of his 2016 presidential campaign for their possible ties to the Russian government — an investigation that could turn up criminal activity by the Trump campaign.
"That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts," Comey told the House Intelligence Committee on Monday morning.
Some of the points covered by Schiff in his opening statement summarizing the Trump-Russia scandal included the following.
• Russian intelligence agents began their hacking campaign as early as 2015 "when Russian intelligence services launched a series of spearphishing attacks designed to penetrate the computers of a broad array of Washington-based Democratic and Republican party organizations."
• While the hacking may have been initiated as an intelligence-gathering operation, the Russians quickly "weaponized" the documents they stole, posting them on the hastily created "DCLeaks" website, and passing them on to Wikileaks who published them in a series of massive "dumps."
• "The stolen documents were almost uniformly damaging to the candidate Putin despised, Hillary Clinton and, by forcing her campaign to constantly respond to the daily drip of disclosures, the releases greatly benefited Donald Trump's campaign," Schiff said.
• Russia also offered to pass documents that could prove damaging to Clinton to the Trump campaign in exchange for "a Trump Administration policy that de-emphasizes Russia's invasion of Ukraine and instead focuses on criticizing NATO countries for not paying their fare share." The Trump administration, and candidate Trump, did indeed adopt such a policy.
• Trump adviser and longtime close friend Roger Stone publicly declared his advance knowledge that material hacked and stolen by the Russian intelligence agents, including private emails stolen from the account of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, would soon be released to the public. "'I have total confidence that @wikileaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon... Payload coming,' (Stone) predicts, and two days later, it does. Wikileaks releases its first batch of Podesta emails."
Following the hearing on Monday, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes, a California Republican, told a reporter that he did know who Stone was. Nunes also claimed that he had never heard of Carter Page, a Trump adviser with close ties to Moscow, who reportedly was involved in a deal that sold 19 percent of Russia's state-run oil company Rosneft to a mysterious, unidentified private buyer in the Cayman Islands.
But just two weeks ago, Nunes had confirmed that the Trump White House came to him for help in countering the media reports involving Stone, Page, and other Trump associates with Russian connections, according to The Washington Post.
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[Featured Images by Cliff Owen, Evan Vucci/AP Images]