Conservative government transparency group Judicial Watch filed an official complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) on Monday, alleging the congressman acted inappropriately when he met with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen ahead of their congressional hearings.
Last week, The Daily Wire reported on Schiff’s “nagging ethics questions,” pointing out that Schiff’s meeting with Simpson carries the appearance of impropriety, as it occurred before Simpson testified about his involvement in the alleged Russian collusion narrative and his role in the FBI’s previous investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The article was published just before it was revealed that Schiff met with Cohen for a total of 10 hours before the latter testified before the House regarding what he knows about other alleged crimes committed by President Donald Trump.
While the Judicial Watch complaint focuses on these two meetings, it should also be noted that Schiff appears to have leaked confidential information to the media during closed-door testimony. Multiple sources have reported that Schiff would leave the room during testimony, and a few minutes later a “scoop” would appear on CNN reporting on something from the meeting. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) said Schiff did this during Donald Trump Jr.’s closed-door testimony. Former staffer Donny Ferguson said Schiff did this during Benghazi hearings, and the same thing happened during Cohen’s testimony.
“Rep. Schiff has an ethics problem. His and his staff’s irregular communications with anti-Trump witnesses reflect poorly on the credibility of the House and its committees’ investigations,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in a press release. “It has long been apparent that Rep. Schiff can’t be trusted to lead the Intelligence Committee, so we hope that Democrats on the Ethics Committee stop protecting Mr. Schiff and take action.”
The complaint cites the House Code of Official Conduct and media reports on Schiff’s behavior, but then uses Schiff’s own words against him. In 2017, Schiff demanded then-House Intel Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) recuse himself because he had told Trump about an “incidental collection” of campaign communications.
Schiff at the time wrote that “I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president’s campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman.”
Fitton wants Schiff held to the same standards. Schiff is overseeing his own investigations into Trump, and these meetings with people prior to their testimony is suspect. If Nunes’ behavior hurt public confidence, surely Schiff’s meetings, leaks, and the fact that he hired a pundit who already has a desired outcome to conduct an investigation should hurt public confidence as well.
“Rep. Schiff’s conduct and contacts with witnesses must be treated with the same gravity that Reps. Schiff and Pelosi accorded Rep. Nunes’s actions. Rep. Nunes recused himself for a time from certain oversight responsibilities with respect to the Russia-Trump investigations,” the complaint states.
Nunes was also investigated while he was the chairman for alleged wrongdoing. Nothing was found against him.