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It’s known as the Confrontation Clause; the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution says that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right… to be confronted with the witnesses against him.”
But not for President Trump, according to Rep. Adam Schiff.
Schiff is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Chairman that next week will hold the first public impeachment inquiry hearings. He has denied Republicans’ request to call the whistleblower that helped kick off the inquiry, saying his or her testimony was “redundant and unnecessary.”
“The committee … will not facilitate efforts by President Trump and his allies in Congress to threaten, intimidate and retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously raised the initial alarm,” Schiff said in a letter to Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (D-CA). “… The whistleblower has a right under laws championed by this committee to remain anonymous and to be protected from harm.”
The intelligence community whistleblower — whose name has been circulating for weeks in Washington — filed an anonymous complaint about a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky. The whistleblower claimed Trump demanded a quid pro quo: either investigate the business dealings in Ukraine of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, or give up nearly $400 million in U.S. aid.
His or her testimony would likely be crucial in any hearing, but Schiff said in his letter that there is no need to call the whistleblower.
“The impeachment inquiry, moreover, has gathered an ever-growing body of evidence — from witnesses and documents, including the president’s own words in his July 25 call record — that not only confirms but far exceeds the initial information in the whistleblower’s complaint…” Schiff wrote. “In light of the president’s threats, the individual’s appearance before us would only place their personal safety at grave risk.”
Schiff also said in his letter that the House Intelligence Committee “will not serve as vehicles” for what he called “sham investigations into the Bidens or debunked conspiracies about 2016 U.S. election interference that President Trump pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit.”
Rep ranking Republican Devin Nunes said Schiff is wrong.
“Because President Trump should be afforded an opportunity to confront his accusers, the anonymous whistleblower should testify,” Nunes wrote in his letter to Schiff earlier Saturday. “Moreover, given the multiple discrepancies between the whistleblower’s complaint and the closed-door testimony of the witnesses, it is imperative that the American people hear definitively how the whistleblower developed his or her information, and who else the whistleblower may have fed the information he or she gathered and how that treatment of classified information may have led to the false narrative being perpetrated by the Democrats during this process.”
The committee chairman has long sought control of who Republicans will be allowed to call. Earlier this month, in an appearance on “CBS Evening News,” Norah O’Donnell asked Schiff, “Republicans say they’re concerned that the Democrats will block the witnesses that they want to hear from. Can you assure them that you won’t reject those witnesses?”
“Well, we’ve asked them for proffer of which witnesses they think are relevant, and I have to say, we have concerns that they’re going to propose a bunch of witnesses that have no bearing, that they can use merely to smear the president’s opponents or for other improper purposes,” Schiff said.
“It’s important to note that, to the contrary of what they have been saying, in both Clinton and the Nixon impeachments, the minority did not have the right to call witnesses on their own unilaterally. They could call for a vote, but it was a majority vote, that they were not assured of winning. So, we would love to hear who they’re interested in having come before the committee.
“But given the kind of circus-like tactics, the storming of the SCIF and all the stunts the president puts them up to, we can’t surrender the process to the minority party,” Schiff said, referring to last week when Republicans descended on a “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility” used for viewing secure documents and interviewing key witnesses.