On Friday evening, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) sent a letter to the repellent Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) demanding that he submit to questioning under oath by House Republicans. Schiff is the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and is leading the current impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
In the letter, Nunes takes a few well-deserved shots at Schiff regarding the “process” of the hearings and notes that “by now the American people know your desire to see the duly-elected president removed from office outweighs your sense of responsibility to running a functioning intelligence oversight committee.” Nunes writes:
Prior to the start of your public show trial next week, at least one additional closed-door deposition must take place. Specifically, I request that you sit for a closed-door deposition before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight Committees.
As the American public is now aware, in August 2019, you and/or your staff met with or talked to the whistleblower who raised an issue with President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian president Zelensky. Although you publicly claim nothing inappropriate was discussed, the three committees deserve to hear directly from you the substance and circumstances surrounding any discussions conducted with the whistleblower, and any commitment to let the committee’s interview the whistleblower directly, you are the only individual who can provide clarity as to these conversations.
As you know, the House Intelligence Committee has precedent for such an arrangement. During the committees investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, sitting members of Congress agreed to participate in closed-door depositions. Given your championing of such an agreement two years ago, you should have no problem with you appearing before the three committees to discuss your interactions with the whistleblower.”
This request is not intended to satisfy the rights of the minority to call witnesses for public testimony pursuant to section 2 of H. Res. 660. I appreciate your attention to this manner.
The inquiry rules, which were written by Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and passed by a party line vote (with the exception of two Democrats from districts where Trump won in 2016 who voted with Republicans), require Republicans to seek “permission” from Schiff to call witnesses.
It is critical that House Republicans question Adam Schiff under oath about his or his staff’s communications prior to the date the whistleblower submitted his complaint to the Intelligence Committee Inspector General. When Trump was asked about this in September on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” he said, “We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower.”
In early October, a report from the New York Times made it clear that Schiff had lied – again. According to the Times:
The early account by the future whistle-blower … explains how Mr. Schiff knew to press for the complaint when the Trump administration initially blocked lawmakers from seeing it. Before going to Congress, the C.I.A. officer had a colleague convey his accusations to the agency’s top lawyer. Concerned about how that avenue for airing his allegations was unfolding, the officer then approached a House Intelligence Committee aide, alerting him to the accusation against Mr. Trump. ”
The whistle-blower’s decision to offer what amounted to an early warning to the intelligence committee’s Democrats is also sure to thrust Mr. Schiff even more forcefully into the center of the controversy. By the time the whistle-blower filed his complaint, Mr. Schiff and his staff knew at least vaguely what it contained.
Schiff apologist, MSNBC contributor and Daily Beast editor Sam Stein told viewers he had spoken with Schiff and said:
We talked for a couple of minutes last night and he expressed regret for not having been more clear in his wording. He said at the time, obviously, we now know the whistleblower had approached his staff, but there wasn’t 100% certainty if the whistleblower that had approached his staff was the same one who was behind the complaint. There was a suspicion it was, but it wasn’t 100% certainty.
He also was explaining that he was trying to compel the whistleblower to come to testify before the committee. But again, he expressed regret for what he said in the initial interview with ‘Morning Joe’ and said he should have been much more clear about it.
I must say, this puts him in some trouble. He clearly wasn’t being forthright with us a couple of weeks ago, and he should have been.
Yeah, so this kind of gets to the heart of why Schiff can’t be taken at his word.
Will Adam Schiff agree to be questioned under oath by House Republicans? I certainly hope he does. He should. He is actually now considered to be a “fact witness” in the case. But, if I were Schiff, I probably would not.
If Schiff does agree to a deposition, here are some of the questions he can likely expect. I am making the assumption that the whistleblower is indeed Eric Ciaramella (EC).
We know that, in August, you hired two of EC’s former National Security Council colleagues, Sean Misko and Abigail Grace. Did EC approach one of them? How did this evolve?
On what date and under what circumstances did you/and or a member of your staff meet/or speak to EC?
Did you or a member of your staff help draft EC’s complaint?
What did you know of EC’s political views and his employment history at that time?
Did Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman tell EC about the call?
If not Vindman, who was EC’s source?
Did you have anything to do with changing the rule which previously allowed whistleblowers to include only first hand knowledge in a complaint?
Why did you cut off questioning immediately when Rep. Jim Jordan asked Vindman who was included in the small group of people he shared the read-out of the call with?
Oh, by the way, where is the evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians that you claimed for over two years was in plain sight?
Schiff did grant approval on Friday for Jim Jordan to move over to the House Intelligence Committee in order to participate in the impeachment inquiry. But agreeing to a deposition under oath by House Republicans just might be a bridge too far for this serial liar.