Former Special Counsel John Durham shut down a line of questioning from Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., that sought to assert Donald Trump Jr. had committed a crime during a meeting in Trump Tower.
The exchange came during Durham’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Schiff referenced a Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr. and Russian individuals prior to the 2016 election that the lawmaker claimed constituted a crime.
“Are you aware, Mr. Durham, that [Robert] Mueller’s and Congressional investigations also revealed that Don Jr. was informed that a Russian official was offering the Trump campaign ‘very high-level and sensitive information” that would be incriminating of Hillary Clinton…?” Schiff asked.
“Sure, people get phone calls all the time from individuals who claim to have information like that,” Durham responded.
“Really? The son of a presidential candidate gets calls all the time from a foreign government offering dirt on their opponent. Is that what you’re saying?” Schiff replied.
“I don’t think this is unique in your experience,” Durham responded.
“So you have other instances of the Russian government offering dirt on a presidential candidate to the presidential candidate’s son. Is that what you’re saying?” Schiff continued.
Durham then asked Schiff to repeat the question, and subsequently responded, “I’m saying that people can make phone calls making claims all the time. Of that, you may have experience.”
“Are you really trying to diminish the significance of what happened here, and the secret meeting that the president’s son set up in Trump Tower receiving that incriminating information?” Schiff pressed.
“I’m not trying to diminish it at all, but I think the more complete story is that they met, it was a ruse, and they didn’t talk about Mrs. Clinton,” Durham stated. “I don’t think that was a well-advised thing to do.”
“Oh, not well advised. That’s the understatement of the year. So you think it’s perfectly appropriate, or maybe just ill-advised, for a presidential campaign to secretly meet with a Russian delegation to get dirt on their opponent?” Schiff asked.
“If you’re asking would I do it, I hope I wouldn’t do it. But it’s not illegal. It was stupid, foolish, ill-advised,” Durham replied.
“Well, it is illegal to conspire to get incriminating opposition research from a hostile government that is of financial value to a campaign. Wouldn’t that violate campaign laws?” Schiff asked.
“I don’t know all those facts to be true,” Durham concluded.
The Wednesday exchange came just hours before the House was expected to move forward with the process of censuring Schiff for his actions during the Trump-Russia investigation. Republicans argue he made “false accusations” against former President Donald Trump throughout the investigation.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is expected to lead the final vote on Schiff’s censure Friday. The move requires only a simple majority.