Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) pre-empted Republican statements about the whistleblower who alerted Congressional Democrats to alleged misconduct on the part of President Donald Trump by issuing a statement Tuesday night, warning House Republicans that mention of the whistleblower would result in an immediate complaint to the House Ethics Committee.
Schiff, per an “impeachment resolution” passed weeks ago, has the final call on witnesses, and, over the weekend, abjectly denied a Republican request to hear from the whistleblower whose testimony is central to the case for President Trump’s impeachment.
The GOP was clear, in its request, that cross-examination of whistleblower was paramount to their defense, particularly given that the Democrats’ case for impeachment seems to hinge on the whistleblower’s claim of having received information about an alleged quid-pro-quo agreement between President Trump and Ukrainian officials, trading foreign aid for assurances that Ukranian prosecutors were looking into whether former Vice President Joe Biden used his clout as part of the Obama Administration to pave the way for his son, Hunter, to do business in-country.
Schiff told Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee that having the whistleblower testify and undergo cross-examination would be “redundant” and “unnecessary” and that “the individual’s appearance before us would only place their personal safety at grave risk.”
Schiff’s statement only served to enrage Republicans, so the House Democrat doubled down Tuesday night, all but guaranteeing that any Republican who mentions the whistleblower will face an immediate and unmerciful investigation.
“The Committee has a long, proud, and bipartisan history of protecting whistleblowers—including from efforts to threaten, intimidate, retaliate against, or undermine the confidentiality of whistleblowers,” Schiff’s Tuesday letter to Nunes read.
“Among other authorities, the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2010 and the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act include procedures for Intelligence Community personnel to make protected disclosures to inspectors general across the Intelligence Community and to the congressional intelligence committees. 16 Among other things, Intelligence Community personnel are shielded from any action constituting reprisal or the threat of reprisal for making disclosures in accordance with these procedures,” the letter continued.
“The statutory framework also prevents obstruction of lawful communications by federal employees with Congress, and of congressional proceedings ,” Schiff concludes. “And, as mentioned above, the Code of Official Conduct for Members of Congress requires that every Member ‘shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.’ The Committee on Ethics has historically viewed this provision as ‘encompassing violations of law and abuses of one’s official position.'”
As if that weren’t enough, Schiff’s letter goes on to threaten Republicans who mention Joe Biden or his son Hunter in the context of the impeachment inquiry.
“[I]t is important to underscore that the House’s impeachment inquiry, and the Committee, will not serve as venues for any Member to further the same sham investigations into the Bidens or into debunked conspiracies about 2016 U.S. election interference that President Trump pressed Ukraine to undertake for his personal political benefit,” Schiff writes, as though the Democrats are not crafting the impeachment narrative for full political effect.
And to top it off, Schiff wants the President to stay quiet: “Nor will the Committee facilitate any efforts by President Trump or his allies to threaten, intimidate, or retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously and lawfully raised concerns about the President’s conduct.”
The last line seems to admit that the whistleblower is central to the case, which draws Schiff’s efforts to keep the whistleblower from having to answer questions into stark contrast.