The CIA whistleblower whose complaint sparked the Democrats’ impeachment efforts has decided that he will take questions from Republican lawmakers after public outcry over the highly controversial process that Democrats instituted for conducting their impeachment inquiry severely threatened to undermine the entire process.
Whistleblower attorney Mark Zaid made the announcement on Sunday via Twitter, writing, “Our legal team offered GOP direct opportunity to ask written questions of #whistleblower. Recent GOP messaging, led by President Trump (incl this morning), has been to highlight original #WBer & demand disclosure of identity.”
“Despite long standing policy of [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] to protect #whistleblowers, especially anonymity (btw, this was consistent with my efforts w/GOP on #Benghazi), GOP has sought to expose our client’s identity which could jeopardize their safety, as well as that of their family,” Zaid continued. “We have directly engaged GOP as to the irrelevance of the whistleblower’s information and identity (including addressing any issue of bias), but with little effect in halting the attacks. Btw, countless OIG complaints are filed anonymously & full of hearsay. It’s common.”
“We offered HPSCI (& SSCI), both Majority & Minority, to have #whistleblower answer questions in writing, under oath & penalty of perjury. Obviously, per House rules GOP is beholden to DEMs,” Zaid continued. “We, however, are not. Being a whistleblower is not a partisan job nor is impeachment an objective. That is not our role.”
However, there is a potential problem with the offer: the whistleblower is only offering to submit answers in writing and has not offered to testify in front of Republicans.
“So we have offered to @DevinNunes, Ranking HPSCI Member, opportunity for Minority to submit through legal team written questions to WBer. Qs cannot seek identifying info, regarding which we will not provide, or otherwise be inappropriate,” Zaid concluded. “We will ensure timely answers. We stand ready to cooperate and ensure facts — rather than partisanship — dictates any process involving the #whistleblower.”
A Republican source connected to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry said on Sunday, “I don’t think we will settle for scripted interrogatories. We need a full accounting of his actions and how this was orchestrated.”
Republican lawmakers have noted that one of the things they want to press the whistleblower on is his connections to Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, since it was revealed that Schiff’s staff had contact with the whistleblower prior to the whistleblower filing the complaint and, as a Washington Post fact-check concluded, Schiff lied about it.
During a recent speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) noted the importance of needing to physically see the whistleblower:
You get to ask the questions, you see the questions, you get to hear the answers, and you get to observe the witnesses. It’s important and yet under orders of the speaker and Chairman Schiff this so called comparative grand jury kept the huge majority out of those hearings where we could hear and see for ourselves and now we find out through the vote today that yeah the judiciary committee is ultimately going to get this from the intelligence committee.
But never in the history of this country have we had such gross unfairness that one party would put armed guards with guns to prevent the duly authorized people from being able to hear the witnesses and see them for themselves and then all we hear from this resolution today, ‘we’re going to send you the depositions after we get through doctoring and looking at and editing the transcripts, we’ll send you those so you have the evidence you need.’ that’s not the kind of evidence that a coup should be based on. If we’re going to have what they’re trying to legalize as a coup, we ought to have a right to see each of those witnesses and the only potential use for the deposition should be impeachment of those witnesses, nothing else, not for anything substantive.