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IS SCHIFF UNDER INVESTIGATION?
by Sharon Rondeau
Roberts said he wished to ask two questions, both of which concerned Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which reportedly touched off a “whistleblower” complaint with the Intelligence Community’s inspector general and the Acting Director of National Intelligence.
The complaint, made public in the form of a five-page letter which many believe was written by a legal team, instigated Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to launch an “impeachment inquiry” Thursday on the heels of several House committees’ ongoing probes of the president both before and after he won the 2016 election.
Roberts’s second question, which Trump initially wanted directed to Ninisto but then agreed to take, referred to a New York Times article released minutes before which reported that the whistleblower met with a member of House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s staff prior to the complaint becoming public.
Trump animatedly responded that he “loved that question,” that he had become aware of it just before beginning the joint press conference, and that he believes that Schiff participated in writing the CIA whistleblower’s complaint.
“The C.I.A. officer approached a House Intelligence Committee aide with his concerns about Mr. Trump only after he had had a colleague first convey them to the C.I.A.’s top lawyer. Concerned about how that initial avenue for airing his allegations through the C.I.A. was unfolding, the officer then approached the House aide. In both cases, the original accusation was vague,” The Times reported Wednesday afternoon.
In response to a subsequent reporter’s question about House Democrats’ impeachment effort, Trump said that he intends to file a “major lawsuit” in response to the 22-month Russia “collusion” investigation carried out by Special Counsel Robert Mueller which in the end found insufficient evidence of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives to affect the outcome of the 2016 election.
The FBI had brought those accusations in the form of investigations of Trump as to “collusion” and “obstruction of justice.” The Mueller report reached no conclusion on the latter.
Trump’s responses to both reporters’ questions included references to not only possible legal action against members of Congress and others connected with the Russia investigation, but also what appeared to be close scrutiny of Schiff. In remarks made from the Oval Office earlier Wednesday as well as at the joint press conference, Trump demonstrated his anger at Schiff’s characterization during last week’s House Intelligence Committee hearing with Acting DNI Joseph Maguire of what Trump said to Zelenskiy on July 25, a performance which Schiff later clarified to be a “parody.”
Trump has characterized Shiff’s reinterpretation of the phone call, which did not adhere to the transcript released by the White House, as “treasonous.” As he responded to Roberts’s second question, Trump held up a paper which may have been The Times‘s referenced article and praised the newspaper, which has been highly critical of him since before he was inaugurated, for publishing it.
The article reports that “A reconstituted transcript released by the White House of a call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine backed up the whistle-blower’s account.” Whether or not the quid pro quo the whistleblower claimed was expressed in the conversation remains a topic of debate.