House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., questions Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire,as he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Catherine Herridge, who is now with CBS, reported that the whistleblower, believed to be Eric Ciaramella, called Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson on October 8th. The New York Times had recently reported he’d been in touch with a member of Rep. Adam Schiff’s staff prior to filing his complaint. The article said Schiff had “learned about the outlines” of the story before August 12th, which was the date the complaint had been submitted. The Times cited “a spokesman, as well as current and former American officials” as their sources.
News that a member or members of Schiff’s staff had contact with the whistleblower was significant for two reasons. First, the complaint had triggered an impeachment inquiry. And second, because Schiff had repeatedly claimed that neither he, nor any member of his staff, had “spoken directly to the whistleblower.”
Even the Washington Post called him out for this obvious lie.
Patrick Boland, Schiff’s spokesman, issued a statement at the time: “Consistent with the Committee’s longstanding procedures, Committee staff appropriately advised the whistleblower to contact an Inspector General and to seek legal counsel. At no point did the Committee review or receive the complaint in advance.”
All that was required of Schiff was a simple “I should have been more transparent,” and he was off the hook.
According to Herridge, the October 18 “Memorandum of Investigative Activity,” which Atkinson had forwarded to leaders of both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, indicated the whistleblower had “reached out to the committee, but claimed that nothing substantial was discussed and that the staff member directed them to go through official channels.”
Would anyone have believed President Trump if he said nothing substantial had been discussed on his call with President Zelensky?
Herridge, who has viewed the documents, wrote that the whistleblower called Atkinson “to clarify the nature of his or her contact with Democratic majority staff of the House Intelligence Committee before the complaint was filed.”
The memorandum states the committee staffer told the whistleblower, “‘Do it right, hire a lawyer, and contact the ICIG.’ So that is what the COMPLAINANT did. At the time, COMPLAINANT did not even know what the ICIG was.”
The whistleblower said his contact was “based on getting guidance on a procedural question, and that no substance of the actual disclosure was discussed, COMPLAINANT did not feel, based on the way the form question was worded, that it was necessary to check that box.”
(Note: There is a box on the whistleblower disclosure form,” which requires a detailed accounting of who is aware of the complaint. The box for “Congress or congressional committee(s)” was left blank by the whistleblower.”)
Basically, both the whistleblower and Adam Schiff had lied about their previous contact. Because they’d been caught, and been forced to explain it, they chose to minimize it. Oh, it was so insignificant, we didn’t even think it was worth noting.
Many of us beg to differ.
It’s possible that Ciaramella spoke to his old friend and colleague, Sean Misko, whom Schiff had hired as an aide in August. The Washington Examiner’s Kerry Picket reported last week the two had a “bro-like” friendship. Or perhaps he spoke with his former colleague, Abigail Grace, whom Schiff had hired in February.
It is critical that the whistleblower, the aide to whom he spoke, and Schiff himself, all be questioned under oath.
In related news, Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent out the following tweet on Friday. “LTC Alexander Vindman and whistleblowers like him are patriots.” There’s been speculation that Vindman was the person who told Ciaramella about the call. But Schiff refused to allow Vindman to reveal whom he had discussed the call with. It’s also possible Schumer calls Vindman a whistleblower because he spoke to the NSC’s general counsel following the call. Curious.
LTC Alexander Vindman and whistleblowers like him are patriots.
They are standing up for the Constitution they swore an oath to defend.
They don’t deserve these disgraceful attacks, and they must be protected from reprisals.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) November 22, 2019