(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Poor little Adam Schiff. He thought he had all of his ducks in a row. Then the New York Times had to go and report that a member of his staff had been in contact with the whistleblower before he filed his complaint.
Prior to this revelation, Schiff had insisted that the whistleblower testify under oath before the House Intelligence Committee which he chairs. Ever since news broke that the whistleblower had prior communications with his committee, he’s been trying to avoid it.
Having observed Schiff in action, we can only conclude that he doesn’t want Republican members of Congress to be able to question the whistleblower about his contacts with Schiff’s staff or the media. Also, knowing Schiff, I wouldn’t be surprised if he himself met with the whistleblower before the complaint was submitted.
On September 24th, he tweeted that they’d been “informed by the whistleblower’s counsel that their client would like to speak to our committee and has requested guidance from the Acting DNI as to how to do so. We‘re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week.”
We have been informed by the whistleblower’s counsel that their client would like to speak to our committee and has requested guidance from the Acting DNI as to how to do so.
We‘re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) September 24, 2019
Schiff contacted the acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, on September 26. He wrote:
Do I have your assurance that once you work out the security clearances for the whistleblower’s counsel, that that whistleblower will be able to relate the full facts within his knowledge that concern wrongdoing by the president or anyone else, that he or she will not be inhibited in what they can tell our committee, that there will not be some minder from the White House or elsewhere sitting next to them telling them what they can answer or not answer? Do I have your assurance that the whistleblower will be able to testify fully and freely and enjoy the protections of the law?
On September 29, Schiff made it clear he expected the whistleblower to testify “without a minder from the Justice Department or from the White House to tell the whistleblower what they can or cannot say. We’ll get the unfiltered testimony of that whistleblower.”
Shortly afterwards, Schiff was asked on MSNBC if he’d had any knowledge of the whistleblower before the complaint was submitted and he said no.
On October 2, the New York Times published the story that the whistleblower had contacted a House Intelligence Committee aide. The report said the whistleblower had first expressed his concerns to a CIA colleague and asked him to convey them to the C.I.A.’s top lawyer. It’s unclear if the issue was ever raised with the CIA’s lawyer or if it had been and he didn’t think the whistleblower had a case. Either way, nothing came from that effort, so the whistleblower reached out to Schiff’s aide. The Times writes that “in both cases, the original accusation was vague.” In fact it was so vague, and after reading a transcript of the call, many of us, like the FBI’s top lawyer, still don’t see what his concern was.
The report said the staffer told Schiff about the whistleblower, but did not reveal his identity. Sure.
He was forced to qualify his earlier denial to MSNBC and after that, “Schiff stopped demanding the testimony, and last Sunday he claimed it was no longer needed. While the extent of their coordination is unknown, the major problem was that the discussions were undisclosed by both Schiff and the anti-Trump complainant. Schiff had publicly denied any such interactions while the bureaucrat failed to mention the contacts when specifically asked about them on a government form.”
Another major change that took place after the story in the Times, is that the Democrats became very secretive to the extent that they wouldn’t allow Republican members of Congress to sit in on the depositions or even view the transcripts. In this way, they could cherry pick the most damaging information to leak to the media.
Last Sunday, Schiff told CBS News, “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. We have the best evidence of that.”
Given that we already have the call record, we don’t need the whistleblower or his complaint. Since we’re talking about impeaching the President of the United States here, something that doesn’t happen everyday, I think a personal appearance is called for.
As most of us are aware, the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is not official because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has refused to hold a vote on the House floor. On Friday, she announced that she “would not be holding a vote anytime soon.”
She has several good reasons for not doing so. It would hurt House Democrats from purple districts where support for Trump is strong.
Once a formal floor vote is taken to open an impeachment inquiry, the Republicans, who have been shut out of the process entirely, would gain the power to subpoena and to question witnesses.
The Federalist’s David Marcus points out another reason why Pelosi might be holding back.
Once the gavel falls on an actual impeachment, the House, the only chamber the Democrats hold, becomes irrelevant. That is a political disaster, and it is why the Democrats are still very unlikely to actually pull that trigger.
The ball will move into the Senate’s court and Pelosi and the House will have no more control over it. That’s a very big deal, because from the day they took over the House the Democrats have been able to frustrate Trump with impeachment talk any time they want to step on his initiatives or triumphs. Once a vote is held, that is over.
What’s a Speaker to do?