Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) dodged a question Sunday about why he put words in President Donald Trump's mouth during Thursday's House Intelligence Committee hearing.
ABC host George Stephanopoulos confronted Schiff about the dialogue he made up in which Schiff's version of Trump explicitly told Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to find dirt on Trump's political opponents.
"That was you making up dialogue, putting it in the president's mouth. If the facts are as damning as you say why make up dialogue for dramatic effect, even if it's a parody as you say?" Stephanopoulos asked.
Schiff dodged the question and said Trump is upset with him because he brought the whistleblower complaint to the eyes of the public.
"Well George, you're right," Schiff said. "The call speaks for itself and it is plenty damning, but let's not pretend that this is really what the president is upset with me about. I can tell you exactly why the president is furious with me, and that is because when I learned that a whistleblower had filed a credible and urgent complaint that was being withheld from Congress—and no one in the country knew about this yet—I went public to demand that we get that complaint."
Schiff's "parody" was not an accurate portrayal of the exchange between President Trump and President Zelensky, but the congressman argued he captured "the essence" of what Trump said.
"Well it reads like a classic organized crime shakedown," Schiff said at Thursday's hearing. "Shorn of its rambling character and in not so many words, this is the essence of what the president communicates."
"I'm going to say this only seven times so you better listen good," Schiff said in part of his version of Trump's words on the call. "I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it. On this and on that.… You know what I'm asking so I'm only going to say this a few more times, in a few more ways. And by the way, don't call me again. I’ll call you when you've done what I asked."
President Trump and Republican lawmakers criticized Schiff for his inaccurate paraphrase of the transcript.
"It is disturbing and outrageous that chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff opens up a hearing of this importance with improvised fake dialogue between President Trump and President Zelensky," Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) tweeted on Thursday.
"We should focus on the facts," Stefanik added.