While President Trump is now accusing Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) of 'helping to write' a CIA whistleblower's complaint at the heart of an impeachment inquiry, the New York Times is out with a Wednesday article designed to put distance between the House Intelligence Committee Chairman and the accusation - suggesting Schiff had no more than a vague sneak peek.
Trump claims Adam Schiff wrote the whistleblower complaint. pic.twitter.com/jSv6pe9lcT— Jason Easley (@PoliticusJason) October 2, 2019
As The Times reports, "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," adding "the original accusation was vague," and "The aide did not share the whistle-blower’s identity with Mr. Schiff or anyone else."
So - according to the Times, Schiff kinda sorta knew what the whistleblower said, and a House Intel Committee aide told him (or her) to get an attorney - Andrew Bakaj - who "interned for Schumer in the spring of 2001 and for Clinton in the fall of the same year," per The Federalist.
The Times goes to great lengths to explain that nothing was untwoard.
"Like other whistle-blowers have done before and since under Republican and Democratic-controlled committees, the whistle-blower contacted the committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the intelligence community," said Schiff spokesman Patrick Boland.
Shocker (not really)...@RepAdamSchiff knew the whistleblower’s allegations before the whistleblower’s atty & before there was a whistleblower complaint. No surprise who told this person to be a whistleblower, hire an atty & file a complaint w no 1st hand knowledge. https://t.co/yeg2lwOagV— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) October 2, 2019
Trump, meanwhile, is gunning for Schiff.
On Wednesday, Mr. Trump said Mr. Schiff should be forced to resign for reading a parody of the Ukraine call at a hearing, an act Mr. Trump has called treasonous and criminal.
“We don’t call him shifty Schiff for nothing,” said Mr. Trump. “He’s a shifty dishonest guy.”
Mr. Schiff’s aides followed procedures involving the C.I.A. officer’s accusations, Mr. Boland said. They referred the C.I.A. officer to the inspector general for the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, and advised him to seek legal counsel.
Mr. Schiff never saw the full complaint or knew precisely what the whistle-blower would deliver to Mr. Atkinson, Mr. Boland said. -NYT
GOP spokeswoman Elizabeth Harrington, meanwhile, responded to the Times' article - calling the whistleblower saga 'COLLUSION' and a 'CON JOB' in a Wednesday afternoon tweet.
"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."— Elizabeth Harrington (@LizRNC) October 2, 2019
Yes, people should take CIA coup attempts very seriously!
Finally, if this process seems vaguely familiar, it's because it should be: as the Federalist's Sean Davis writes, this is a carbon copy of what happened with Christine Blasey Ford's accusations aimed at sabotaging Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation.
House Dems provided the anti-Trump accuser w/ guidance and legal advice before he went to the ICIG, then leaked his allegations.— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) October 2, 2019
Senate Dems provided Christine Blasey Ford w/ guidance and legal advice before she went to WaPo, then leaked her allegations.
It's the same playbook.