(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), ranking member of the House intelligence committee, said Thursday was a "sad, sad day for America," as Democrats grilled Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire about a second-hand complaint from a whistleblower who had partisan reasons to act, according to the intelligence community inspector-general.
Nunes told Fox News's Sean Hannity:
You 're seeing the destruction of one of America's finest institutions, the U.S. Congress. If it can't get any lower, it got even lower today.
It doesn't make me proud to be in there today. I mean, it was really miserable for us to sit there and watch the other side actually fabricate statements that they assigned to the United States president.
This is really -- it's really just -- it's just unhinged -- and it needs to stop. We look forward to this whole whistle-blower coming in to testify. This is going to be really interesting as we start to get to the bottom of and peel back the onion. And I think what you're going to find again, it's going to be the same people that were behind the Russia hoax are behind Ukrainian hoax.
Intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has come under fire for attributing words to President Trump that Trump never said.
In his opening statement on Thursday, Schiff -- with a straight face and no hint of a smile -- framed the argument his own way, telling the nation:
This is the essence of what the president communicates: 'We've been very good to your country, very good. No other country does as much as we have. But you know what, I don't see much reciprocity here. I hear what you want, I have a favor I want from you, though. And I'm going to say this only seven times so you better listen good. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it. On this and on that.'
President Trump said no such thing. But apparently, what Trump did say in his phone call (see below) wasn't strong enough to seal the case of election interference that Democrats are now trying to make.
Even CNN asked Schiff about his made-up quotation on Thursday:
"Mr. Chairman, you're being severely criticized by a lot of Republicans for mocking the president during your opening remarks at the committee," CNN's Wolf Blitzer said. "Was it a mistake to make light of the situation?"
"Oh, I don't think it's making light of the situation," Schiff replied. "And I certainly wouldn't want to suggest that there's anything comical about this. But I do think it's all too accurate that this president, in his conversations with the president of Ukraine, was speaking like an organized crime boss.
"And the fact that these words are so suggestive that the president used of what we have seen of organized crime harkens back to me, of what, for examples, James Comey said, when he was asked by the president if he could let this matter involving Flynn go; when Michael Cohen testified about how the president speaks in a certain code where you understand exactly what's required.
Here, the point is that the president was using exactly that kind of language, and the president of Ukraine fully understood what he was talking about.
"Well, do you regret the parody, use of those phrases during the course of your opening statement?" Blitzer followed up.
"No," Schiff said. "I think everyone understood. And my GOP colleagues may feign otherwise, but when I suggested, 'It was as if the president said listen carefully because I'm only going to tell you seven more times' that I was mocking the president's conduct, but make no mistake about this. What the president did is of the utmost gravity and seriousness because it involves such a fundamental betrayal of his oath."
Here is what Trump said, according a memorandum summarizing the call:
(Ukraine President Zelensky speaks): I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.
The President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you're surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it's very important that you do it if that's possible.
[Note that the "favor" involves the origin of the Trump-Russia investigation.]
President Zelensky: Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier. For me as a President, it is very important and we are open for any future cooperation. We are ready to open a new page on cooperation in relations between the United States and Ukraine. For that purpose, I just recalled our ambassador from United States and he will be replaced by a very competent and very experienced ambassador who will work hard on making sure that our two nations are getting closer. I would also like and hope to see him having your trust and your confidence and have personal relations with you so we can cooperate even more so. I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine. I just wanted to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us. I will make sure that I surround myself with the best and most experienced people. I also wanted to tell you that we are friends. We are great friends and you Mr. President have friends in our country so we can continue our strategic partnership. I also plan to surround myself with great people and in addition to that investigation, I guarantee as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly.. That I can assure you.
[Note that Zelensky brings up Giuliani.]
The President: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that's really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what's happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me.
President Zelensky: I wanted to tell you about the prosecutor. First of all, I understand and I'm knowledgeable about the situation. Since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate, who will be approved, by the parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September. He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case. On top of that, I would kindly ask you if you have any additional information that you can provide to us, it would be very helpful for the investigation to make sure that we administer justice in our country with regard to the Ambassador to the United States from Ukraine as far as I recall her name was Ivanovich. It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.
The President: Well, she's going to go through some things. I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it. I'm sure you will figure it out. I heard the prosecutor was treated very badly and he was a very fair prosecutor so good luck with everything. Your economy is going to get better and better I predict. You have a lot of assets. It's a great country. I have many Ukrainian friends, they're incredible people.