“THE FIRST TRANSCRIPT OF THE FIRST WITNESS”
by Sharon Rondeau
At 10:02 a.m., Ratcliffe appeared following a replay of a question he asked House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) “impeachment inquiry” witnesses on Wednesday as to whether or not they could cite any “impeachable” offenses on the part of President Donald J. Trump. Both longtime State Department official George Kent and Acting Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor remained silent after Ratcliffe put forth his question.
Ratcliffe told Bartiromo that the “rules” of the inquiry, set by committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA28), change every day” according to Schiff’s whims and that “the most important witnesses” have not testified. Ratcliffe said those individuals are Schiff; the “whistleblower” who filed an August 12 complaint which touched off the impeachment hearings; and Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son who was given a lucrative Board membership by Burisma Holdings at the same time his father acted as Obama’s liaison to the country.
Kent on Wednesday and Yovanovitch on Friday testified that the State Department was aware of alleged corruption within Burisma beginning in 2014. Yovanovitch admitted that in preparation for her 2016 Senate confirmation hearings, she was advised to direct any questions which might arise over “Burisma” and Hunter Biden’s position to the office of the vice president.
She admitted that Hunter Biden’s then-position on the Board could suggest a “conflict of interest.”
The “whistleblower” claimed that U.S. government officials told him that Trump abused his power during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy when he asked Zelenskiy for the “favor” of looking into whether or not anything improper occurred when Hunter Biden acquired his position on the Burisma Board. In January 2018, Joe Biden bragged about pressuring then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroscheko to fire the nation’s chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was reportedly investigating Burisma at the time.
On October 2, The New York Times reported that Schiff’s staff had had contact with the whistleblower and advised him to file his complaint with the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG). According to The Times, the whistleblower’s complaint was directed to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees after first being conveyed second-hand by “a colleague” to the chief counsel of the CIA.
“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,” The Times reported. “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.”
Further, the paper wrote, “The House staff member, following the committee’s procedures, suggested the officer find a lawyer to advise him and meet with an inspector general, with whom he could 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, an official said.”
As The Post & Email reported last week, the previous ICIG, Charles I. McCullough, III is an attorney at one of the firms representing the whistleblower, with his name appearing on three public statements the firm issued after the whistleblower’s complaint was made public and the “impeachment inquiry” announced September 24 by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
As acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified to the committee on September 26, there was a disagreement as to whether or not the whistleblower complaint pertained to the intelligence community at all. Maguire had sought guidance from the Justice Department on the matter of “executive privilege,” while ICIG Michael Atkinson reportedly believed the complaint to be “urgent” and “credible,” thereby meriting its conveyance to Congress, as is required by law for whistleblower complaints originating with the U.S. Intelligence Community.
For his part, Zelenskiy has said publicly that he felt no pressure as a result of the phone call to open or reopen an investigation into the Bidens and/or Burisma.
The Obama regime did not provide lethal aid to Ukraine at the time, but rather, food and blankets; in contrast, the Trump administration has provided $1.5 billion in military and non-military assistance, including Javelin missiles, a point Republicans stressed in both of last week’s hearings and which the witnesses confirmed accurate.
At 10:09, Ratcliffe told Bartiromo that Democrats “don’t want the whistleblower to come in because it has now been discovered that Chairman Schiff’s office coordinated for that person to become the whistleblower,” a claim suggested earlier by Trump. “The other thing that Chairman Schiff hasn’t done — you talk about witnesses and transcripts — he hasn’t released the inspector general’s transcript — the first transcript of the first witness, because it will tell you what the inspector general knew and didn’t know about the relationship between Chairman Schiff and the whistleblower based on what Chairman Schiff and the whistleblower did or didn’t reveal to the inspector general,” Ratcliffe said.
The ICIG testified to the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on October 4. On that day, CNN quoted Ratcliffe as having said, “I can tell you one thing that we’ve learned very clearly, and that is that the IG for the Intelligence Community can provide no information about the contacts between the HPSCI majority, and the whistleblower prior to his involvement.”
Ratcliffe added that “much of what” Schiff has stated during the three public hearings “is just not true.”