House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Wednesday unconvincingly claimed during the Democrats’ House impeachment inquiry hearing that he did not know the identity of the Ukraine “whistleblower.”
He made the improbable claim during an intense back-and-forth with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) before the opening statements from US ambassadors George Kent and William Taylor.
“Do you anticipate when we might vote on the ability to have the whistleblower in front of us?” asked Jordan.
“Of the 435 members of Congress, you are the only member who knows who that individual is, and your staff is the only staff of any member of Congress who’s had a chance to talk with that individual,” the Ohio congressman continued. “We would like that opportunity. When might that happen in this proceeding today?”
Schiff responded by accusing Jordan of making a “false statement.”
“First, as the gentleman knows, that’s a false statement,” said Schiff. “I do not know the identity of the whistleblower, and I’m determined to make sure that identity is protected,” he continued. “You’ll have an opportunity after the witnesses testify to make a motion to subpoena any witness and compel a vote.”
The New York Times reported in October that the anti-Trump complainant, identified online as Eric Ciaramella, met with one of Schiff’s aides regarding his concerns about President Trump prior to filing his formal complaint on Aug. 12. According to the Times, the aide shared what the complainant said to Schiff, but did not share his name.
Yes, we’re expected to believe that even though the timeline of events strongly suggests that Schiff and his staff had been colluding with the anti-Trump complainant all along.
Nearly two weeks before the Intelligence Community Inspector General formally informed Congress of a pending “urgent concern” whistleblower complaint, Schiff tweeted allegations from the complaint without disclosing their source.
When the Ciaramella’s complaint was initially published, the chairman demanded repeatedly that the “whistleblower” should come forward and testify to his committee. After it became known that Schiff’s staff had coordinated with the complainant, however, Schiff and his media allies shifted gears, arguing it would be dangerous and unprecedented for the “whistleblower” to testify publicly.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) demonstrated his disagreement with Schiff on that point during a Wednesday morning interview on WMAL, becoming the first senator to name the anti-Trump complainant.
“I think [alleged Ukraine whistleblower] Eric Ciaramella needs to be pulled in for testimony,” Paul said. “He is a person of interest in the sense that he was at the Ukraine desk when Joe Biden was there and Hunter Biden was working for Ukrainian oligarchs.”
Paul added that Ciaramella is “a material witness” and for that reason, he “needs to be brought in.”