Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) — one of the House Democratic leaders eager to unseat President Donald Trump — has not made an announcement about a potential appearance before Congress by the so-called whistleblower.
But it is seeming increasingly likely that this individual won’t be testifying at all.
This latest development has occurred even though House Democrats once indicated testimony by this person would be crucial for them as they looked into Trump’s July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — in which he suggested Ukraine should have a look at past activities by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Biden Hunter, in an effort to staunch corruption, or potential corruption, against the United States.
So, for Schiff and other Democrats, now suddenly the whistleblower’s actual remarks or testimony have become maybe not so needed.
“Given that we already have the call record, we don’t need the whistleblower who wasn’t on the call to tell us what took place during the call,” Schiff said to CBS News on Sunday. “We have the best evidence of that.”
Just weeks earlier, Schiff had been quite eager for this individual to testify.
House Intelligence Committee Democrats were “adamant” about interviewing the whistleblower, as the Washington Examiner and others have pointed out, even though this individual did not directly hear the president’s July 25 call and had no firsthand knowledge of it — but for certain reasons felt compelled to report on it.
“I was very pleased that the director [of National Intelligence] gave his personal assurance that that whistleblower would not only be protected, but when that whistleblower comes before our committee, and all that is remaining is to get the security clearances for his or her counsel, that when that whistleblower comes before our committee, there won’t be any Department of Justice minder, no White House minder — no one to sit next to that whistleblower and try to circumscribe, redact anything that whistleblower has to say as it pertains to misconduct by the president or anyone around him,” Schiff told CNN just last month.
But now there’s a different tune he’s singing.
Turns out that’s because Schiff’s intelligence panel staff had been in direct contact with the whistleblower prior to the person’s filing of a formal complaint about the call — which is not what Schiff had admitted earlier. He’d said there’d been no communication at all with the whistleblower.
Congressional Republicans have sharply criticized all of this “as evidence Schiff has been dishonest about his role in orchestrating the whistleblower complaint and subsequent leaks to the media,” as the Examiner pointed out.
On Monday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) joined anchor Maria Bartiromo on the Fox Business show “Mornings with Maria” to discuss the latest House Democratic action aimed at the impeachment of Trump. And he cut right to the chase, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) still refuses to hold a vote on whether there should even be an inquiry. No vote is currently scheduled.
Said Scalise, “This is part of Adam Schiff’s — it’s like a kangaroo court he’s set up, but they’ve got this shroud of secrecy, where they want to drip out things that they want to allude to. They make false accusations to try tar the president, while — if you look at the facts that have come out — the facts have all said that this is witch hunt, that the president did nothing wrong.”
“Why do you need a whistleblower,” he added, “when you actually have the transcript of what was said, and the two people that were directly on the [July 25] call both have said there was nothing wrong, including Zelensky — again, saying there was never any pressure. He thought it was a good, congratulatory phone call from President Trump. And so, why Adam Schiff continues to hide in secret the [Kurt] Volker testimony — he was already starting to leak out some things that were false about it, and everybody else that listened, or was participating in the Volker testimony, said that Schiff was being disinformative and, frankly, that the entire thing should be released to the public.”
“What is Adam Schiff trying to hide, Maria? It’s like a continuing pattern we’re seeing from him of throwing out false information, hoping the mainstream press goes and runs with it — because by the time the truth comes out, they’re onto throwing out more false accusations about this president, all to try to impeach a president of the United States based on secondhand information and false information. It’s alarming.”
“So what can you do about it?” Bartiromo asked him. “This week you’ve got a lot of your colleagues back, many of whom were either on recess or visiting within their districts. Does anything change this week that now you’ve got the membership back?”
“Well, it could, but frankly the first answer is to have a vote in the House on an actual inquiry, if that’s what they want,” said Scalise.
“I think most people across the country are saying, you know, let’s focus on getting the economy back on track — focus on things like USMCA and lowering drug prices,” he also said.
How Adam Schiff’s smear campaign against @realDonaldTrump works:
Hold closed-door depositions.
Cherry-pick lines to help your narrative.
Withhold key facts.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) October 14, 2019
“You know, when you had the president go and get a partial agreement with China, that’s a big deal. It’s a big deal that should tell the rest of the world we can get better agreements with countries that have been taking advantage of us, and one good way to start is by passing a deal with our neighbors from the north and south — Mexico and Canada — and yet Pelosi won’t do that because she’s so fixated with impeachment.”
“And I think a lot of these members in swing districts are hearing that, ‘Hey, you ran saying you were going to work with people to get things done and all you’re focused on is impeaching the president over a lie about quid pro quo that never even happened. What are you people doing up there?'”
Bartiromo pointed out that Republicans don’t want all of the comments from witnesses to be kept secret.
She played a clip of Schiff saying on “Face the Nation,” “The Republicans would like nothing better because they view their role as defending the president, being the president’s lawyers. If witnesses could tailor their testimony to other witnesses, they would love for one witness to be able to hear what another witness says so that they can know what they can give away and what they can’t give away.”
Even The Wall Street Journal questioned Schiff’s comment that this latest investigation is like that of “a grand jury.” “As Mr. Schiff knows,” its editorial board wrote, “a grand jury is a criminal proceeding. Impeachment is a political process in which the House defines the meaning of high crimes and misdemeanors. Mr. Schiff wants it both ways. Run his secret hearings like a criminal grand jury — but then impeach Mr. Trump of political offenses even if the president committed no crime.”
Said Bartiromo after quoting the WSJ, “So your reaction, Congressman?”
“Wow. I mean, think about this. Schiff wants to impeach a president of the United States behind closed doors … You look throughout the history of our country. Again, only three times in the history of our country have impeachment proceedings come out of a committee; every single one of them started with a public vote. Not secret, but public — and this idea that you could hide everything in secret when they’ve got a track record of throwing out false information time after time to try to undermine the president.”
“And then the president — they never thought, Maria, that the president was going to release the transcript because if the president didn’t release the transcript, could you imagine the media narrative and the Schiff narrative that, ‘OK, look at all these high crimes and misdemeanors, we need to get to the bottom of it’ — and it turns out there were none.”
“They cannot name a high crime and misdemeanor,” added Scalise. “They’re searching around on a witch hunt for it, but that’s not why you have a grand jury proceeding, for example. If he wants to use that analogy, does a district attorney really go and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to go and try to indict this person. Now let’s go see if we can find evidence of it’ — and behind closed doors, they secretly try to find something.”
“That’s not how it’s done. It ought to be in public. What is Schiff trying to hide, I think, is the real question when we’ve got an election next year. The people of this country should decide the president next year — not Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi behind closed doors, for goodness’ sake.”
Scalise added a few moments later, “The president will not be forced from office … Pelosi is so far down a road where her radical Left has wanted to impeach the president from the day he got elected.”
Also on Monday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was booted out when he tried to sit in on the testimony of a former top National Security Council expert on Russia — a person who was appearing as part of the impeachment push. Gaetz, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, attempted to attend the testimony of Fiona Hill, a former deputy assistant to the president — but was told that because he’s not a member of the House Intelligence Committee, he had to leave.
Gaetz, as Fox News and other outlets reported, vented about what happened — and referenced “selective leaks” by Schiff.
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This article has been updated with additional information.