House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) knew about the “whistleblower” complaint days before it was officially filed, it was reported on Wednesday.
Schiff – who performed a dramatized version of President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky during last week’s hearing – was aware of the broad contents of the “whistleblower” complaint days before the partisan CIA official formally filed the complaint, the New York Times reported.
After the detailing his accusations to the “the agency’s top lawyer,” the “whistleblower” took his complaint to a House Intelligence Committee aide, who relayed the information to Schiff, who is largely leading the charge on the impeachment inquiry.
Per the New York Times:
Before going to Congress, the C.I.A. officer had a colleague convey his accusations to the agency’s top lawyer. Concerned about how that avenue for airing his allegations was unfolding, the officer then approached a House Intelligence Committee aide, alerting him to the accusation against Mr. Trump. In both cases, the original accusation was vague.
The House staff member, following the committee’s procedures, suggested the officer find a lawyer to advise him and file a whistle-blower complaint. The aide shared some of what the officer conveyed to Mr. Schiff. The aide did not share the whistle-blower’s identity with Mr. Schiff or anyone else, an official said.
As the Times detailed, the “whistleblower” eventually brought the complaint to Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, as Schiff’s aide suggested. That move “gave the whistle-blower added protections against reprisals and also allowed him to legally report on classified information,” the Times reports:
While House Intelligence Committee members are allowed to receive classified whistle-blower complaints, they are not allowed to make such complaints public, according to a former official. A complaint forwarded to the committee by the inspector general gives it more latitude over what it can publicize.
By the time the whistle-blower filed his complaint, Mr. Schiff and his staff knew at least vaguely what it contained.
The complaint – based entirely on second-hand information – ultimately led to the release of the transcript, detailing the contents of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky. The transcripts do not show the president engaging in quid pro quo for dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden, as Schiff suggested during his fabricated reenactment at last week’s hearing.
Schiff told MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Sep. 17 that “we” had not spoken directly to the so-called “whistleblower.” The whistleblower “complaint” is dated August 12 — more than a month before:
SAM STEIN: Hey, Congressman, a couple questions here on this whistleblower front. First off, have you heard from the whistleblower? Are you — do you want to hear from the whistleblower? What protections could you provide to the whistleblower? And then you also said that the DNI’s refusing to turn over the stuff, citing a request from a higher authority. The insinuation left at least for me and others was that the president himself had intervened. Is that the insinuation you sought to provide and, if so, what basis do you have for making that insinuation?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to. But I’m sure the whistleblower has concerns that he has not been advised, as the law requires, by the Inspector General or the Director of National Intelligence just as to how he is to communicate with Congress. So the risk for the whistleblower is retaliation. Will the whistleblower be protected under the statute if the offices that are supposed to come to his assistance and provide the mechanism are unwilling do so. But, yes, we would love to talk directly with the whistleblower.
Schiff claimed: “We have not spoken directly with the Whistleblower” pic.twitter.com/czqCvE3hSF
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) October 2, 2019
A spokesman for Schiff denied any wrongdoing on the chairman’s behalf in speaking to the Times.
“Like other whistle-blowers have done before and since under Republican and Democratic-controlled committees, the whistle-blower contacted the committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the intelligence community,” Schiff spokesman Patrick Boland told the Times.
Boland claimed that Schiff did not view the entire complaint prior to its release:
“At no point did the committee review or receive the complaint in advance,” he said. He said the committee received the complaint the night before releasing it publicly last week and noted that came three weeks after the administration was legally mandated to turn it over to Congress. The director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, acting on the advice of his top lawyer and the Justice Department, had blocked Mr. Atkinson from turning over the complaint sooner.
Despite no evidence of wrongdoing by Trump, House Democrats leapt, using the complaint and transcript as a catalyst for an impeachment inquiry.
Schiff said during a press conference on Wednesday that Trump attacking the “whistleblower” is essentially an “incitement of violence.”
“Let’s not make a mistake here, the president wants to make this all about the whistleblower and suggest that people come forward with evidence of his wrongdoing are somehow treasonous and should be treated as traitors and spies,” Schiff said.
“This is a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses; it’s an incitement of violence,” he added.