House Intel Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff insisted on Wednesday that he does not know the identity of the whistleblower whose complaint sparked impeachment hearings against President Trump — despite his office reportedly being the person’s first point of contact.
The claim came during a tense exchange between the California Democrat and Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a reliable Trump defender.
“Do you anticipate when we might vote on the ability to have the whistleblower in front of us?” asked Jordan, jumping into the fray even before the respective opening statements from US ambassadors George Kent and William Taylor.
“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,” continued Jordan. “We would like that opportunity. When might that happen in this proceeding today?”
Schiff fired back, maintaining that he is not holding out any information on the whistleblower, who has been identified by The New York Times as a male CIA operative once assigned to the White House with extensive knowledge of Ukrainian affairs.
“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.
“You’ll have an opportunity after the witnesses testify to make a motion to subpoena any witness and compel a vote.”
The whistleblower in September highlighted his concerns about a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and the White House’s handling of that call’s record.
He did not directly witness the phone call, and is relying on the information of White House insiders who did.
Through a lawyer, the whistleblower came to Schiff’s office, which reportedly was aware of the complaint before it was publicly filed.
Schiff later conceded that he “should have been much more clear” about his dealings with the whistleblower.
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