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By Charles Creitz | Fox News

Amid reports of the Ukraine whistleblower’s contact with Rep. Adam Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee, it is important to understand when that individual first contacted the panel, its top Republican member said.

Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told Martha MacCallum Wednesday on “The Story” reports — that a Schiff spokesman acknowledged the whistleblower contacted the committee before filing their complaint — is a key development.

“I’d say first I’m not surprised,” he said.

According to Nunes, Schiff briefed his Republican colleagues on the committee of the whistleblower’s allegation shortly after the initial press reports came out three weeks ago.

TRUMP SAYS SCHIFF ‘HELPED WRITE’ WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT, AFTER HOUSE PANEL ADMITS ADVANCE KNOWLEDGE

“[He] claims he doesn’t know exactly what this is, but it must be really important,” he said, adding that the Democrat appeared later to be “pumping up” the story, he said.

“The thing that’s still not clear is when did they actually find out about it — We still don’t have a date. When did this whistleblower actually start talking to the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee? It would’ve been very easy just to tell us and [Schiff] had multiple opportunities.”

Earlier Wednesday, President Trump latched onto the report and became combative with members of the media during a news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.

“It shows that Schiff is a fraud. … I think it’s a scandal that he knew before,” Trump said. “I’d go a step further. I’d say he probably helped write it. … That’s a big story. He knew long before, and he helped write it too. It’s a scam.”

Referring to Schiff  — a Trump antagonist who has long claimed to have surefire evidence that Trump illegally conspired with Russians — as “Shifty Schiff,” Trump characterized Democrats’ impeachment inquiry as a “fraudulent crime on the American people.” (Earlier in the day, Trump described the inquiry as “BULLS—,” and mocked Schiff as a partisan “lowlife.”)

At the press conference, Trump suggested Schiff had a “mental breakdown” and may have committed a crime by reciting an inaccurate, exaggerated version of a transcript of Trump’s fateful July call with Ukraine’s leader — a move that Schiff himself later apologetically acknowledged was a “parody.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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