In the initial disclosure form submitted to the intelligence community inspector general, the whistleblower behind the complaint that sparked the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry failed to include key information about his/her contact with the office of Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (CA), who is heading up the inquiry.
While CBS News first reported on the missing information on the disclosure form on November 22, CBS Senior Investigative Correspondent Catherine Herridge’s tweet Monday highlighting blank sections in the form requiring “a detailed accounting of who is aware of the complaint” has drawn renewed attention to the issue in conservative circles online.
“As impeachment enters new phase, [whistleblower] did not initially disclose contact w/Schiff staff citing ‘guidance on a procedural question,’ ‘no substance of the actual disclosure was discussed,’ and ‘way the form question was worded,'” tweeted Herridge, noting that she highlighted the key sections that should have included detailed disclosures.
As impeachment enters new phase, #WB did not initially disclose contact w/Schiff staff citing “guidance on a procedural question,” “no substance of the actual disclosure was discussed,” and “way the form question was worded.” https://t.co/WPgcbI88Ym
My Sharpie. My highlighter. pic.twitter.com/EtzuSDX87l
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) December 2, 2019
In its initial report on the whistleblower’s incomplete disclosure form, CBS News reported that the whistleblower — whose name is still being withheld by officials — “reached out to the intelligence community watchdog on October 8 to clarify the nature of his or her contact with Democratic majority staff of the House Intelligence Committee before the complaint was filed.”
The whistleblower claimed that he/she left a section requiring a detailed accounting of any contact with “Congress or congressional committee(s)” blank because he/she felt that since “no substance of the actual disclosure was discussed,” it was not “necessary.”
“The whistleblower acknowledged reaching out to the committee, but claimed that nothing substantial was discussed and that the staff member directed them to go through official channels, according to the ‘Memorandum of Investigative Activity,’ provided to House and Senate Intelligence Committee leadership by intelligence community inspector general (ICIG) Michael Atkinson,” CBS reported:
According to the document, the whistleblower reported to the ICIG investigator that the committee staffer advised: “‘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 felt that “[b]ased 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.”
“That box” refers to 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.
The contact between Schiff’s office and the whistleblower prior to the filing of the complaint that sparked the Schiff-led impeachment inquiry was first revealed by The New York Times six days before the whistleblower reached out to the inspector general to “clarify” about his/her contact with Schiff’s office. In the October 2 report, the Times made clear that the general nature of the complaint was conveyed to Schiff’s office and that Schiff was personally informed about the complaint by one of his aides:
The Democratic head of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, learned about the outlines of a C.I.A. officer’s concerns that President Trump had abused his power days before the officer filed a whistle-blower complaint, according to a spokesman and current and former American officials.
The early account by the future whistle-blower shows how determined he was to make known his allegations that Mr. Trump asked Ukraine’s government to interfere on his behalf in the 2020 election. It also explains how Mr. Schiff knew to press for the complaint when the Trump administration initially blocked lawmakers from seeing it.
The C.I.A. officer approached a House Intelligence Committee aide with his concerns about Mr. Trump only after he had had a colleague first convey them to the C.I.A.’s top lawyer. Concerned about how that initial avenue for airing his allegations through the C.I.A. was unfolding, the officer then approached the House aide. In both cases, the original accusation was vague.
The House staff member, following the committee’s procedures, suggested the officer find a lawyer to advise him and meet with an inspector general, with whom he could file a whistle-blower complaint. The aide shared some of what the officer conveyed to Mr. Schiff. The aide did not share the whistle-blower’s identity with Mr. Schiff, an official said.