The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee was the victim of a prank phone call by Russian comedians who offered to give him ‘compromising’ dirt on Donald Trump – including nude photos of the president and a Russian reality show star.
DailyMail.com can disclose that after the prank, his staff engaged in correspondence with what they thought was a Ukrainian politician to try to obtain the ‘classified’ material promised on the call.
On an audio recording of the prank call posted online, Adam Schiff can be heard discussing the committee’s Russia investigation and increasingly bizarre allegations about Trump with a man who claimed to be Andriy Parubiy, the chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament.
The call, made a year ago, was actually from two Russian comedians nicknamed ‘Vovan’ and ‘Lexus’ who have become notorious for their phony calls to high-ranking American officials and celebrities, including UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Elton John.
Its existence was first reportedby The Atlantic but not how a staff member working for the minority on the House Intelligence Committee pursued the information after the call.
Schiff’s office said the congressman suspected the call was ‘bogus’ from the beginning and reported it to authorities afterward.
But in a recording of the eight minute conversation, Schiff appeared to take the call seriously – or at least played along convincingly – and emails from the Democrat’s staff to the fake politician afterwards said he had found it ‘productive’.
Schiff began the call by thanking the ‘chairman’ Andriy Parubiy for his time and warning him that Russian spies were likely listening in.
‘I would caution that our Russian friends may be listening to the conversation so I wouldn’t share anything over the phone that you wouldn’t want them to hear,’ said Schiff.
Vovan, who was posing as Parubiy, reassured Schiff: ‘I don’t think that will impact on our investigation.’
The fake Parubiy claimed the Ukrainian government had obtained recordings and documents that proved Vladimir Putin was blackmailing Trump with naked photos taken during an affair between the president and a Russian glamour model.
Vovan also claimed the Ukrainians recorded secret meetings between a Trump campaign aide and a famous Russian singer-turned-spy that took place at a non-existent mafia hangout in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brighton Beach.
Schiff appeared to be taking notes on the conversation and repeatedly asked for spellings of names and documentation he could send to the FBI.
‘I’ll be in touch with the FBI about this. And we’ll make arrangements with your staff. I think it probably would be best to provide these materials both to our committee and to the FBI,’ said Schiff during the conversation, which lasted around eight minutes according to the recording posted to YouTube.
A spokesperson for Schiff confirmed he was on the call but claimed the congressman had suspicions that the caller might not be Parubiy and reported it to law enforcement last April.
‘Both before and after the call, we were aware that it was likely bogus and had already alerted appropriate law enforcement personnel, as well as after the call,’ the spokesperson said.
‘Obviously, it was bogus – which became even more evident during the call – but as with any investigation that is global in scale, we have to chase any number of leads, many of which turn out to be duds.’
The spokesperson declined to address on the record why a staff member pursued the ‘politician’ after the call if the congressman thought it was fake.
The FBI said it could not comment on whether it received or investigated any information about nude Trump photos or other alleged Russian ‘Kompromat’ from Schiff.
‘We do not disclose whether not a complaint has been received,’ an FBI spokesman told DailyMail.com. ‘We neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.’