House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s opening statement at Thursday’s hearing, a grilling of National Intelligence Director Joseph Maguire, was remarkable.

To begin with, he recited a parody of the conversation between President Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky that was so absurd, it would not have made it into a Grade-C mob movie. A telling decision by Schiff, a capable former prosecutor: If you have an extortionate conversation, you quote it. If you need to imagine it into something it isn’t, that means it is not an extortionate conversation.

ANDREW MCCARTHY: TRIANGULATING MANAFORT — OBAMA, CLINTON AND UKRAINE

Also telling: Chairman Schiff came flying out of the starting block describing how overwhelmingly dependent Ukraine is on the United States and its president. Of course, this fact must be forced to the fore because it is not obvious from the Trump-Zelensky conversation — again, Schiff does not have evidence that Trump extorted Zelensky for the purpose of aiding Trump’s 2020 campaign.

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But more to the point, the relationship of dependency intensified in 2015 due to the flight to Moscow of Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych. At that point, a new Ukrainian government more to the Obama administration’s liking, under President Petro Poroshenko, came to power.

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The new government was desperate for American help, financially and security-wise, which is why Vice President Joe Biden was in a position to pressure it into firing the prosecutor who was conducting a corruption investigation of Burisma, the energy company that had appointed Hunter Biden to its board and was lavishly compensating him.

In “Ball of Collusion,” I outline some of the extensive evidence that in 2016, the Obama administration’s law enforcement agencies pressured their Ukrainian counterparts to revive a dormant corruption investigation of Paul Manafort. I summarized the matter in an excerpt for Fox News a few days back.

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