Monday evening on “Special Report with Bret Baier,” impeachment-phile Bari Weiss trotted out a new talking point. “Just one last thing about the whistleblower. You know, if an informant calls the NYPD and says ‘there’s a house full of cocaine at the end of the block,’ and the NYPD goes there and finds a house full of cocaine, and then we find out that the informant was biased against the homeowner, does it actually matter if the [informant] was biased?”
In other words, the whistleblower is just a tipster—someone akin to a person making a crime-stopper phone call—and has been overtaken by the subsequent investigation. Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) will take it from here, concerned citizen, you can go about your business.
Not so fast. The president is not accused of anything like possessing cocaine. He’s accused of . . . well, actually, nobody can quite get a handle on that. The House impeachment resolution cites no crime or factual scenario on which Schiff might base his investigation. What started as a phone call to the President of Ukraine has been characterized by interested parties as “extortion,” “bribery,” a violation of campaign finance laws, and generic “inappropriate” behavior. But unlike in the cocaine example, we’re having trouble deciding exactly what crime is alleged to have been committed and warrants investigation.
The whistleblower promised the answer. He said the president, “Sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the president’s 2020 reelection bid. According to the White House officials who had direct knowledge of the call, the President pressured Mr. Zelensky to . . . initiate or continue an investigation into the activities of former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.” When the president released the transcript, it notably did not show the president asking Ukraine to investigate Biden (although if he had, such a request would have been fully justified).
The Administration appeared to believe that the transcript would clear everything up and the case would just melt away. But it didn’t. Since the release of the transcript, we’ve learned that Schiff or his staff met with the whistleblower before the whistleblower went to the inspector general. Why is this important? Because there’s an evidentiary gap between what the whistleblower and Schiff say happened and what appears in the transcript. There’s no cocaine in the apartment, in other words, and to extend the metaphor. But we’re told that if we keep looking, we’ll find it somewhere else. Ok, where else are we supposed to look? Adam Schiff and the whistleblower claim to have the answer.
Schiff told Americans that he had secret evidence, beyond the transcript that will show “this is about more than just one call.” He says he has transcripts from closed-door interviews and secret text messages and that they show the president…again, what is the president being accused of doing that is illegal?
At this point, Americans can appropriately ask Schiff to show us his work. A third-grader wouldn’t get full credit on his math homework without showing his work, and neither should Schiff. Show us the text messages. Show us the transcripts. And, more importantly, show us how the people who wrote these things actually had firsthand knowledge.
Likewise, the whistleblower wrote that he has additional evidence and knowledge of the identity of first-hand witnesses who can prove what he’s alleging. He wrote, “Over the past four months, more than half a dozen U.S. officials have informed me of various facts related to this effort. The information provided herein was relayed to me in the course of official interagency business . . . in almost all cases, multiple officials recounted fact patterns that were consistent with one another.”
Oh? Tell us more! What are these “various facts related to the effort?” What are these “fact patterns” that were consistent with one another. The whistleblower tantalizes the reader with promises of a cache of evidence being held in reserve. Ok, then let’s see it. Tell us about the extra facts that make this seemingly innocuous phone call into some sinister “bribery” scandal. That’s a reasonable demand to place on an accuser.
Rather than be subjected to live questioning (and follow-up questioning) the “whistleblower” has taken a page from previous Trump accusers offering to answer the questions only if they are in writing and if he will not be subject to follow-up questions like, “How do you know that?” or “Is there anyone who can corroborate that?”
I’m reminded of a piece I wrote over a year ago, 10 Red Flags About Sexual Assault Claims. Flag one is when the accuser uses the press instead of the process. Flag five is when the accuser seeks to force the accused to defend himself before committing to a final version of the story. Flag seven is when the accuser makes unusual demands to modify or control the process. And Flag ten is when corroborating witnesses simply repeat the accusation of the accuser but don’t have fresh information.
We’re being told both by Schiff and the accuser that we’re not seeing the whole picture and that there’s more to the story than just the transcript. Both of them are making these claims. Both of them are refusing to submit to questions that might reveal that “special” or “secret” knowledge. The idea that the whistleblower answering questions in person might jeopardize his “personal safety” reminds us of similar claims by the Kavanaugh accusers used last year to protect their fragile stories from scrutiny. That’s not how it works. If you say you know something that nobody else does, you’re a witness. It’s that simple.
We’ve now had the opportunity to hear the first day of testimony from witnesses, diplomats Bill Taylor and George Kent. Both witnesses relied heavily upon hearsay, double hearsay, gossip, and their intuitive “understanding” of the situation. Neither witness unveiled the secret caches of evidence promised by Schiff and the whistleblower. Enough with the watercooler gossip. Bring in the accusers and make them explain where they got their information.