Ukraine whistleblower did not inform inspector general of contact with Adam Schiff’s panel – Washington Examiner
The whistleblower who filed a complaint about President Trump did not tell Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson about his or her contact with House Intelligence Committee staff, the watchdog told lawmakers on Friday.
During a closed-door briefing with the panel, Atkinson also said he did not investigate that outreach because he was not aware of it, sources told Fox News.
The whistleblower, reportedly a CIA official who was at one point assigned to the White House, filed a complaint to Atkinson on Aug. 12 that raised concerns about whether Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a July 25 phone call to investigate allegations of collusion between the Democrats and Ukraine during the 2016 election and a matter related to Joe Biden, a political rival, and his son Hunter.
The complaint, which was deemed credible by Atkinson and released late last month, also described an alleged effort by White House officials to conceal details of that private conversation and others using a highly secure computer system.
Trump claims he said nothing wrong in his “perfect” call with Zelensky, but his admission that Biden was discussed prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to launch an impeachment inquiry, and text messages released last week by House Democrats show U.S. diplomats discussing how Trump would not meet the Ukrainian leader unless his country engaged in investigations into Trump’s political foes.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is facing criticism for making misleading statements about what he knew of the whistleblower after it was revealed he learned details about the intelligence official’s complaint before it was formally filed. The whistleblower reportedly approached a House Intelligence Committee aide with vague details of what would appear in the complaint. The aide then shared with Schiff some of what the intelligence official said but did not divulge the identity of the person.
Schiff’s team said proper procedure was followed and that his panel advised the whistleblower to find a lawyer and file an official complaint.
“Like other whistleblowers have done before and since under Republican- and Democratic-controlled committees, the whistleblower contacted the committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the intelligence community,” Schiff’s spokesman Patrick Boland said. “At no point did the committee review or receive the complaint in advance.”
In response to the report that Schiff had prior knowledge of the whistleblower’s allegations, Trump accused the California Democrat of helping the whistleblower write his or her complaint, but a lawyer for the whistleblower strongly rejected the claim.
“There was no contact between the legal team and Congress until nearly a month after the whistleblower complaint was submitted to the Intelligence Community’s inspector general,” Mark Zaid said. “I can unequivocally state that neither any member of the legal team nor the whistleblower has ever met or spoken with Congressman Schiff about this matter.”
Schiff’s Republican colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee have accused him of concealing information about the whistleblower from them as he repeatedly indicated his office had no contact with the whistleblower. He did so publicly as well. Days after the existence of the complaint was publicly revealed, Schiff told MSNBC, “We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to.”
In speaking with lawmakers on Friday, Atkinson also said the whistleblower informed him that he or she was a registered Democrat who had a working relationship with a Democratic politician.
After the briefing, Schiff issued a statement condemning his Republican colleagues, saying they “continued the president’s strategy of deflection by making the absurd claim that because a whistleblower contacted the committee seeking guidance, the committee cannot conduct an investigation into the complaint. If that were true, no whistleblower could contact Congress, and no committee could conduct an investigation.”
“We look forward to following up on what we learned today and continuing our investigation into the facts,” the Democrat added.