It's ridiculous to compare the Democratic funding of the Steele dossier to a potential conspiracy between President Trump's campaign and the Russian government, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., suggested on Wednesday.
Schiff said that the two were "very different qualitatively," and that the there wasn't "any equivalence" between those two situations, according to The Washington Examiner. “I think this is an illustration of a tactic that the administration and its allies often use — which is the argument of false equivalence," he said, while also describing the comparison as "whataboutism."
“I think this is yet another effort to deflect and blur the distinctions and say, ‘Well, everybody does it.’
"Everybody doesn’t do it. When the president says that, I think he is merely projecting his own lack of ethics onto others, which we have seen repeatedly,” Schiff also said.
Those comments followed intense criticism of the president over his suggestion that he would accept opposition research from foreign governments without telling the FBI -- something he accused Schiff himself of doing.
Although Trump's comments raised concerns among Democrats, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report was unable to conclude that his 2016 campaign conspired with the Russians. Democrats like Schiff have pressed for more answers, however, and Schiff threatened to subpoena the FBI if it failed to produce more information on counterintelligence probes into the campaign.
Trump and his campaign have responded to Mueller's report by claiming that it exonerated him and by pointing the finger back at Democrats for collaborating with former British spy Christopher Steele, who also used Russian sources.
That document, Republicans have suggested, wrongly prompted the FBI's original investigation into his campaign -- a claim that former FBI Director James Comey has disputed. Comey, however, faced suspicions that he abused his power by lending so much credence to the dossier and withholding some of its claims from Trump.
Schiff reportedly indicated that the more apt comparison to the Steele dossier was the Trump campaign's work with Cambridge Analytica -- a big data firm that came under scrutiny for extracting user data from Facebook apps and directing it towards political purposes.
“The closer analogy is the Trump campaign’s use of Cambridge Analytica," Schiff said, "and its employment of foreign nationals at Cambridge Analytica and whether those foreign nationals were exercising a degree of control in the campaign that violated the campaign prohibition on the use of foreign nationals."
Schiff has played an integral role in Democrats' probing the administration over the Russia controversy. In addition to fiercely criticizing the attorney general, he's requested that intelligence agencies provide information on the Justice Department's efforts to look into the Russia probe's origins.
It's unclear whether the intelligence agencies will comply, but if history is any judge, they'll ignore Democrats like other Trump officials did. Democrats, in June, responded to refusals to comply with subpoenas -- issued current and former officials like former White House counsel Don McGahn -- by beefing up leadership's enforcement authority.
Democratic leaders, meanwhile, encountered internal pressure to impeach Trump. That seemed unlikely given House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's refusal to hold hearings in her chamber.