U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee

The Democrats in Washington, D.C., suddenly have an unlikely breakout star: U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, a veteran legislator who is not as ideological as Bernie Sanders, not as confrontational as Elizabeth Warren, not as tarnished as Cory Booker.

In truth, Schiff could be called geeky. He’s a careful ex-prosecutor who builds his arguments like a mason working with a level. He’s unlikely to slap you on the back. His wife’s name is Eve — and yes, his website points out that it’s Adam and Eve.

Don’t be fooled: As the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff delivered a 14-minute opening statement last week that asked trenchant questions about the links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Just as important, he delivered it in a style that we badly need — polite, sober, thoughtful, the antidote to the 2 a.m. tweet. And because he has significant local connections, always crucial to this column, he’s worth talking about.

Take those local connections first: Schiff, 56, was born and spent his early life in Massachusetts, the son of a Democratic father and and a Republican mother. After his family moved west, he went to Monte Vista High School in Danville.

When he graduated from Stanford, Schiff had the choice of going to Harvard Law School or UCSF medical school. He chose Harvard and eventually took a job with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, where he prosecuted an FBI agent in a classic “honey-trap’’ scandal involving Russia.

Schiff’s older brother, Dan, is a financial adviser and playwright who lives in the Rose Garden section of San Jose. Dan is married to Amy Sporer Schiff, the first cousin of San Jose attorney Steve Ellenberg. And Ellenberg happens to be married to Susan Ellenberg, a San Jose school trustee expected to run for Santa Clara County supervisor next year to succeed Ken Yeager.

Even if you have trouble parsing those connections, remember this: The emergence of Adam Schiff on the national stage will not hurt Susan Ellenberg locally.

It will not get her elected supervisor. But he brings star power that could help her. Schiff appeared at an event at the Ellenberg home in September 2015. And he is considered a possible successor to Sen. Dianne Feinstein if she does not run next year.

What did Schiff say that has everyone talking? In brief, he methodically laid out the connections between the Russians and the Trump campaign, quietly ticking off the strange connections between Trump’s advisers and Vladimir Putin’s regime. And since then, he has been the Democratic voice in the House investigation.

“We will never know whether the Russian intervention was determinative in such a close election,’’ he said. “What does matter is this: The Russians successfully meddled in our democracy, and our intelligence agencies have concluded that they will do so again.’’

Then he listed a series of events and reports — among them the removal of a provision backing Ukraine from the GOP platform; the failure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to tell about his meetings with the Russian ambassador; the lying of national security adviser Michael Flynn; the revelations of the ex-British agent Christopher Steele; and the prediction of Trump adviser Roger Stone that former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s private emails would be exposed.

“Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated, and nothing more than an unhappy coincidence?’’ Schiff asked. “Yes it is possible. But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected, not unrelated.’’

I’d urge you to watch his statement. In being careful about what he did not know — but also raising comprehensive questions about what he did — Schiff revealed the steadiness of purpose and conscience we crave as a nation.

This article was sourced from http://news-edition.com