by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 29, 2020) — In a tweet just after 6:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY21) tweeted that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA28) has not been honest “when he says he doesn’t know the identity of the whistleblower,” referring to the individual whose complaint set off a flurry of hearings arranged by Schiff which led to the House of Representatives’ impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Stefanik, who is serving on Trump’s defense team, continued, “He absolutely knows the identity of the whistleblower b/c he coordinated with the individual before the whistleblower’s complaint! His staff helped write it!”
To this writer’s knowledge, the latter claim had not been made before, although on October 2, The New York Times reported that Schiff “got an early account of accusations” made by the whistleblower.
Schiff has stated publicly on numerous occasions, including on Wednesday, that he personally does not know the identity of the individual who filed the complaint with the Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson, but he has not contested that his staffers interacted with the complainant prior to the submission of his “urgent concern.”
The complaint was based entirely on second- and third-hand information, the whistleblower related in his August 12, 2019 complaint.
The transcript of Atkinson’s closed-door interview with the House Intelligence Committee is the only record out of 18 not released to the public, a fact which Trump defense attorney, Deputy White House Counsel Patrick Philbin, stressed while answering Senators’ impeachment questions on Wednesday.
On the January 26 edition of “Sunday Morning Futures,” Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX4), another member of Trump’s House defense team, told host Maria Bartiromo that the whistleblower was not honest on the intelligence community complaint form about his interactions with “Congress.” Ratcliffe also contended that if Schiff deemed the transcript “helpful” to Democrats’ pursuit of Trump’s impeachment, he would have released it along with those of the other 17 witnesses.
In mid-December, Ratcliffe told Bartiromo that Schiff’s office “helped start” the whistleblower complaint.
Ranking House Intel Committee member Devin Nunes (R-CA22) said in an interview with Bartiromo earlier this month that during his interview, Atkinson “either lied to Congress or he really needs to correct his statements.”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) offered “no comment” after The Post & Email asked for a response from Atkinson to Nunes’s claim.
When on November 19, Nunes was questioning Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman during the House’s impeachment proceedings, Schiff cautioned Vindman not to disclose to whom he had shared the contents of Trump’s July 25, 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy, which appeared to some to mean that Vindman had spoken to the whistleblower and one other person about the call. During the exchange, Nunes did not equate the whistleblower with either of Vindman’s contacts.
House Republicans have called Schiff “a fact witness” to the events leading up to Trump’s impeachment and have called upon him to testify if the Senate votes to call witnesses.
On Friday, Schiff and the other designated “House Impeachment Managers” claimed to U.S. Senators that the Trump administration has attempted to “cover up” Trump’s “corrupt scheme” to engage Zelenskiy in a “quid pro quo” to benefit his 2020 re-election campaign.
The upcoming election was not mentioned in the transcript of the July 25 call, which Trump authorized for release shortly after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi declared on September 24 that the lower chamber would undertake an “impeachment inquiry.”
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.