A senior White House official has claimed in a lawsuit that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) "acted in concert" with Politico by leaking false information from closed-door impeachment testimony to journalist Natasha Bertrand with the goal of undermining President Trump's confidence in him "and to further Schiff's impeachment inquisition."
According to the lawsuit, Schiff or his staff gave Bertrand closed-door impeachment testimony by former adviser Fiona Hill and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman - who told lawmakers that he was told "at the last second" not to debrief President Trump after attending Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky's May inauguration. Instead, Trump was debriefed by Kashyap Patel, a senior counterterrorism official on the National Security Council (NSC) and longtime staffer for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
During his testimony, Vindman accused Patel of misrepresenting himself as a Ukraine expert, and said he was feeding the president misinformation about the country - which Bertrand then published in Politico.
According to GOP strategist and White House regular Arthur Schwartz, "Both Vindman and Fiona Hill appear to have lied about a number of the same things."
Both Vindman and Fiona Hill appear to have lied about a number of the same things. Hill is represented by Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers. Is former Obama admin hack @LeeWolosky suborning perjury? https://t.co/5E3zp4kWpT— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) October 30, 2019
Patel claims he has never spoken with Trump about Ukraine. He is seeking at least $25 million for defamation and "presumed damages and actual damages, including, but not limited to, insult, pain, embarrassment, humiliation, mental suffering, injury to his reputation, special damages, costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses." He has requested a trial by jury.
According to the lawsuit:
Between October 14, 2019 and November 8, 2019, Politico and Bertrand colluded, collaborated and conspired with Schiff to defame Kash. Schiff, or members of his staff or aides acting at his direction, leaked to Bertrand the closed-door testimony that [former former senior advisor and European and Russian affairs specialist who served on the NSC Fiona] Hill and [NSC Director of European Affairs Lt. Col. Alexander] Vindman gave in the subfloor of the Capitol Visitor Center. The leaks occurred in real-time. Schiff leaked the testimony to Bertrand because Schiff knew that it would be a violation of House Rules and Committee Rules for Schiff to publish the substance of the testimony himself.
The joint collaborative purpose of the leaks was to publish Hill and Vindman’s false and defamatory statements, including Hill and Vindman’s egregious personal attacks on Kash, so as to further Schiff and Politico’s interests in harming the President and advancing the impeachment inquisition. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Bertrand secretly communicated with Schiff or his staff via encrypted email, including proton-mail, and messaging services, such as Signal.
Kash accused Politico of 'intentionally employing a scheme' and abandoning 'all journalistic integrity.'
Defendants intentionally employed a scheme or artifice to defame Kash with the intent to undermine the President’s confidence in Kash and to further Schiff’s impeachment inquisition. Defendants acted in concert with Schiff to accomplish an unlawful purpose through unlawful means, without regard for Kash’s rights and interests.
Defendants abandoned all journalistic integrity and violated their own code of ethics in order to further the conspiracy with Schiff. Defendants did not seek truth; report truth; minimize harm; act independently; and they most certainly were not transparent.
According to Breitbart, a source close to the president said of Bertrand's article "This story is patently false," adding "The president is well aware of Patel’s expertise and background. At no time has the president ever indicated to anyone including Kash that he believed that Kash was any sort of Ukraine expert or had any views on Ukraine at all for that matter. Their discussions were about something entirely unrelated to Ukraine, and Democrats and these witnesses know this but keep perpetuating this lie anyway."