BY ZACHARY STIEBER
Republican congressional leaders accused Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Democrats of rigging the impeachment scheme after news broke that Schiff was in contact with the whistleblower before the complaint against President Donald Trump was filed.
The report from the New York Times claimed that Schiff received an “early account by the future whistleblower” days before the person filed the complaint accusing Trump of presidential misconduct.
The report seemed to be confirmed by a Schiff spokesman, who said: “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.”
Schiff said during a Sept. 17 interview on MSNBC that he did not have “direct contact” with the person who filed the complaint.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the minority whip, was among those reacting to the news, telling a Fox News reporter that he was “deeply concerned” that the whistleblower went to Schiff’s staff instead of waiting for the CIA whistleblower process to work through its conclusion. The person, who has not been identified publicly, reportedly filed the complaint initially with the CIA.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) shared the report and wrote in a statement: “Chairman Adam Schiff just got caught orchestrating with the whistleblower before the complaint was ever filed. Democrats have rigged this process from the start.”
In another statement, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), an ally of Trump’s, wrote: “So the whistleblower was communicating with team Adam Schiff behind the scenes? Well. This explains a lot, indeed.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) added: “Shocker (not really)…@RepAdamSchiff knew the whistleblower’s allegations before the whistleblower’s attorney and before there was a whistleblower complaint. No surprise who told this person to be a whistleblower, hire an attorney and file a complaint with no 1st hand knowledge.”
Schiff is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the ranking member on the committee, wrote in a statement: “We learn from the press today that Chairman Schiff had prior knowledge and involvement in the whistleblower complaint. He withheld this information from the Ameican people and even from the Intelligence Committee. In light of this news, it’s hard to view impeachment as anything aside from an orchestrated farce.”
Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Schiff and the committee, said in a statement sent to news outlets that the sequence that took place was “a regular occurrence, given the committee’s unique oversight role and responsibilities.”
“Consistent with the committee’s longstanding procedures, committee staff appropriately advised the whistleblower to contact an inspector general and to seek legal counsel,” he added.