House Impeachment Manager and Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff dodged a question Thursday about his staff’s connection to the alleged whistleblower.
After initially refusing to read a question from Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, saying that it could potentially reveal the name of the whistleblower, Chief Justice John Roberts took a revised question that focused instead on the House Intelligence Committee staffer who reportedly coordinated with the whistleblower.
Roberts introduced the question, based on recent reporting that indicated the House Intelligence Committee, which Schiff chairs, hired a National Security Council holdover from the Obama Administration who had been part of a conversation in which someone said that “we need to do everything we can to take out the president.”
“The report further describes relationships between Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and the whistleblower,” Roberts continued. “Why did your committee hire him the day after the phone call and what role has he played throughout your committee’s investigation?”
Schiff immediately defended his staff and the committee, but he made no move to answer the question. “First of all, there have been a lot of attacks on my staff,” he said. “And as I said when this issue came up earlier, I’m appalled at some of the smearing of those that work for the Intelligence Committee. Now this refers to allegations and newspaper articles which are circulating smears on my staff and asked me to respond to those smears. I will not dignify those smears on my staff by giving them credence whatsoever or share information I believe could or could not lead to the identification of the whistleblower.”
Schiff then turned on the Republicans who had asked the question, suggesting that asking a question about his staffing decisions was tantamount to “attacking his staff.”
“Members of this body used to care about the protection of whistleblower identities,” Schiff continued, in spite of the fact that the question neither revealed that identity nor asked for it. “They didn’t use to attack members of staff. Now they do. Now they do. Now they will take an unsubstantiated repressed article and use it to smear my staff. I think it’s disgraceful.”
Schiff went on to describe the process by which intelligence community whistleblowers come forward with information, but still made no move to answer the question about his decision to hire an Obama holdover. Once again he accused the Republicans of attempting to out the whistleblower.
“The president would like nothing better than that I’m sure the president is applauding this question because he wants his pound of flesh,” Schiff continued, turning his attack on President Donald Trump. “He wants to punish anyone that has the courage to stand up to him. Well, I can’t tell you who the whistleblower is because I don’t know, but I can tell you who it should be. It should be every one of us. We should be willing to blow the whistle on the president’s misconduct.”
Schiff concluded by suggesting that in the future people might be too afraid to come forward, saying, “Why stick my neck out? Is my name going to be dragged through the mud? Will people join our staff if their names are going to be dragged through the mud?”
At no point did he answer the question.
Author: Virginia Kruta