During the Q&A portion of the Senate impeachment trial on Thursday, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) asked a question on behalf of senators from both parties, to wit:
Recent reporting described two NSC staff holdovers from the Obama Administration attending an all-hands meeting of NSC staff held about two weeks into the Trump Administration and talking loudly enough to be overheard, saying, “We need to do everything we can to take out the President.” On July 26, 2019, the House Intelligence Committee hired one of those individuals, Sean Misko. The report further describes relationships between Misko, LTC Vindman, and an individual alleged as the whistleblower. Why did your committee hire Sean Misko the day after the phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky, and what role has he played throughout your committee’s investigation?
Here is an excerpt from the news report to which that question referred:
Barely two weeks after Donald Trump took office, Eric Ciaramella – the CIA analyst whose name was recently linked in a tweet by the president and mentioned by lawmakers as the anonymous “whistleblower” who touched off Trump’s impeachment – was overheard in the White House discussing with another staffer how to remove the newly elected president from office, according to former colleagues.
Sources told RealClearInvestigations the staffer with whom Ciaramella was speaking was Sean Misko. Both were Obama administration holdovers working in the Trump White House on foreign policy and national security issues. And both expressed anger over Trump’s new “America First” foreign policy, a sea change from President Obama’s approach to international affairs.
Misko left the White House last summer to join House impeachment manager Adam Schiff’s committee, where sources say he offered “guidance” to the whistleblower, who has been officially identified only as an intelligence officer in a complaint against Trump filed under whistleblower laws. Misko then helped run the impeachment inquiry based on that complaint as a top investigator for congressional Democrats.
That article was extremely damaging to the Democrats’ case for impeachment, and all Adam Schiff could do is obfuscate and misdirect in response:
First of all, there have been a lot of attacks on my staff. And as I said when this issue came up earlier, I am appalled at some of the smearing of some of the professional people that work for the Intelligence Committee. Now, this question refers to allegations in a newspaper article which are circulating smears on my staff and asks me to respond to those smears. And I will not dignify those smears on my staff by giving them any credence whatsoever nor will I share any information which I believe could or could not lead to the identification of the whistleblower. I want to be very clear about something. Members of this body used to care about the protection of whistleblower identities. They didn’t used to gratuitously attack members of committee staff, but now they do. Now they do. Now they’ll take an unsubstantiated press article and use it to smear my staff. I think that’s disgraceful. You know, whistleblowers are a unique and vital resource for the intelligence community, and why? Because unlike other whistleblowers who can go public with their information, whistleblowers in the intelligence community cannot because it deals with classified information. They must come to a committee. They must talk to the staff of that committee or to the inspector general. That is what they’re supposed to do. Our system relies upon it, and when you jeopardize a whistleblower by trying to out them this way, then you are threatening not just this whistleblower, but the entire system. Now the President would like nothing better than that, and that the President has a part in this question because he wants his pound of flesh. And he wants to punish anyone that has the courage to stand up to him. Well, I can’t tell you who the whistleblower is because I don’t know, but I can tell you who the whistleblower should be. It should be every one of us. Everyone of use should be willing to blow the whistle on presidential misconduct. If it weren’t for this whistleblower, we wouldn’t know about this misconduct. And that might be just as well for this president, but it wouldn’t be good for this country. And I worry that future people that see wrongdoing are going to watch how this person has been treated with threats against person’s life, and they’re gonna say, “Why stick my neck out? Is my name gonna be dragged through the mud?” Will people join our staff if their names are going to be dragged through the mud?
Me: I can’t let that load of bull schiff stand with commenting prior to Jay Sekulow’s remarks. What a load of histrionics, emotion, misdirection, and lies! First of all, the question wasn’t directed to “out the whistleblower,” even though the only agency precluded from doing so by statute is the Inspector General’s office of the intelligence community! The whistleblower has already been identified in numerous press reports as Eric Ciaramella; to deny that is absurd at this point, as he is central to this farce and needs to be questioned about his actions. Schiff is lying and misdirecting. I find it particularly amusing that Schiff is complaining about an “unsubstantiated news report” that smears his staffers. That’s exactly the tactic that Democrats have employed for three years as they have attacked the President, Devin Nunes, and others with false allegations from “unnamed sources.” He needs to read Lee Smith’s excellent book, The Plot Against the President: The True Story of How Congressman Devin Nunes Uncovered the Biggest Political Scandal in U.S. History, in which he would learn a LOT about false leaks smearing Nunes and others -as well as some details about Schiff’s OWN lies (Schiff leaked Nunes phone records, as you may recall)! I note that Schiff did NOT directly deny the claims in that RealClearInvestigations story – methinks that the details reported therein are true for that simple fact of Schiff’s non-denial. He then lies by claiming that the whistleblower “must come to the committee or to the inspector general.” No, that’s not the correct process that was followed here, as Patrick Philbin detailed on Tuesday. Philbin detailed the IC whistleblower statute and explained first that the complaint wasn’t even covered under the statute, and second that the Director of the National Intelligence sent the complaint and the IC IG’s concerns to DoJ where it was determined that there was no violation of law and closed the case. In short, the complaint should never have been sent to the House Intelligence Committee in the first place. How and why it found its way there is entirely germane to this impeachment farce. And Schiff completely dodged the Senators’ questions of how and why Misko was hired on “coincidentally” the day after the two presidents’ phone call because he knows he’s been caught out in the set-up.
Jay Sekulow then stepped up to the plate and squashed Schiff like a bug:
There’re two responses that I’d like to get to. One, with regard to the issue of witnesses – and in this case the whistleblower. Mr. Schiff put the whistleblower front and center with his own words during the course of their investigation. He talked about the whistleblower testifying. Retribution is what is prohibited under the (whistleblower) statute. That’s what the whistleblower statute protects … that there’s no retribution, in other words, that he cannot be fired for blowing the whistle. But this idea that there’s complete anonymity – and I’m not saying that we should disclose the individual’s name, and you handled that in executive session or any way you want – but we can’t just say it’s not a relevant inquiry to know who on the staff that conducted the primary investigation here was in communication with that whistleblower, especially after Mr. Schiff denied initially that he or his staff had any conversations with the whistleblower. It goes back to the whole witness issue. And I want to go back to that for just 30 seconds here. It seems to me that the discussion for witnesses … I heard what Mr. Schiff said about the 30 depositions in a week. But the Democrat leaders said yesterday that I could have any witnesses I want (I read that in the transcript), and you couldn’t get all the witnesses that you’d want in a week. You couldn’t get all the discovery done in a week. But if in fact they believe that they presented this overwhelming case that they have … they talk about subterfuge and smokescreens … the smokescreen here is that they used 13 of their 17 witnesses to try to prove their case, and we were able to use those very witnesses to undercut that case. So I think that we just have to keep that in perspective.
Exactly right! It was Schiff himself who bragged about bringing the whistleblower in for closed-door testimony until the President declassified and released the phone call transcript. And Schiff denied coordination with the whistleblower before he was outed in yet another of his serial lies. As Sekulow implies, the very heart of this impeachment farce is the motivation behind the whistleblower’s actions, and how the complaint even made it to the House Intelligence Committee in the first place when his complaint failed the test to do so under the IC whistleblower’s statute.
Adam Schiff needs to be squeezed until every drop of the story about the Misko-Ciaramella-Vindman-McCord details is made known to the American people.