House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is allegedly engaged in covering up the testimony of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson because his testimony undermines the Democrats’ entire impeachment case, says Trump’s legal team and Republican members of Congress.
Schiff and other House impeachment managers have repeatedly talked about 17 witnesses that they interviewed during the House’s secret depositions, but they are not talking about the 18th witness that they interviewed, which is allegedly Atkinson.
Schiff reportedly designated Atkinson’s testimony as a “briefing,” which allowed him to make what Atkinson said classified and makes it so Republicans in the Senate cannot use what he said in their defense of the president.
“The potentially exculpatory evidence for Mr. Trump has remained classified and is not part of the record for the impeachment trial,” The Washington Times reported. “Because it remains classified, only members of the intelligence committee have seen it and Mr. Trump’s legal team is denied a copy.”
“Mr. Atkinson’s briefing for House lawmakers covered the origins of the whistleblower complaint that led to the two articles of impeachment,” The Times added. “Mr. Trump’s supporters charge that the whistleblower was part of a scheme to take down the president and that the complaint was coordinated by Mr. Schiff, chairman of the intelligence committee and the lead House impeachment manager prosecuting the case.”
Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) told The Times that Schiff isn’t releasing the testimony because it’s damaging to Schiff and the whistleblower, and raises serious credibility issues.
“It addresses the issue about contacts between Schiff, his staff, and the whistleblower, and what the inspector general knows about that,” Ratcliff added. “So those are material facts that should be talked about, but Adam Schiff has prevented that.”
Trump attorney Jenna Ellis raised the issue again late this week during an interview on Fox News, saying, “Ranking Member of the Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes has also come forward and said there is an active investigation from Republicans into the IG Michael Atkinson because of his testimony and why there was apparently, and he couldn’t disclose the confidential and classified information at this point, but said that was very damaging to Adam Schiff’s case.”
“And so why is this not being declassified?” Ellis added. “Why are Democrats covering this up?”
SILENT SCHIFF! Dems clamor for witnesses to drag out their media circus in the @realDonaldTrump #ImpeachmentHoax. But where is the 18th witness who ALREADY testified? The IG testimony is being HIDDEN by Schiff because it’s damaging to Dems! @TeamTrump @TrumpWarRoom pic.twitter.com/yaxZgfCc8C
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) January 26, 2020
In a separate interview with Sara Carter this week, Rep. Nunes also brought up the issue, saying that the transcript needs to be released, “and the fact that the Democrats won’t release the transcript of us interviewing the Inspector General, Atkinson, that brought this scam forward – everyone needs to see that testimony, and the reason that it’s not being released is because it’s very damaging, not only to the whistleblower, but also to Atkinson himself,” Nunes said, adding, “this testimony is really bad and … the Republicans have an active investigation into Atkinson.”
On December 9, Ratcliffe highlighted some of what was in the transcript during one of the Democrats’ impeachment hearings on the Intelligence Committee.
Full transcript of Rep. John Ratcliffe’s (R-TX) remarks on December 9, 2019, on the classified testimony of Intelligence Community inspector general Michael Atkinson:
RATCLIFFE: Thank the Chairman. The 299-page Democratic majority report mentions the intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson on pages 26, 33, 138, 140, and 143. Mr. Goldman, you were present for the October 4, 2019, transcribed interview of the Inspector General Michael Atkinson, correct?
RATCLIFFE: On pages 53 to 73 of that transcribed interview, the Inspector General’s testimony confirms the following: That the whistleblower made statements to the Inspector General under penalty of perjury that were not true and correct; that the whistleblower first made statements in writing under penalty of perjury that were not true and correct. The whistleblower then made statements under penalty of perjury that were not true and correct in his or her verbal responses to the Inspector General’s investigative team.
Because of the whistleblower’s statements in writing and verbally to the Inspector General that were neither true, correct, or accurate, pages 53 to 73 of that sworn testimony revealed that the Inspector General was not able to answer any questions, none, from me about the whistleblower’s contact or communication with Chairman Schiff’s staff of which Mr. Goldman is a member.
Mr. Castor, do you remember anywhere in this 299-page report that makes reference to the fact that when the whistleblower started this inquiry, he or she did so by making statements under penalty of perjury that were neither true or correct in writing and then did so again verbally?
CASTOR: I don’t remember that.
RATCLIFFE: After the Inspector General testified on October 4, and after media reports revealed that the whistleblower and Chairman Schiff did not disclose their prior contacts or communications with one another, the whistleblower contacted the Inspector General to explain why he or she made statements under penalty of perjury in writing and verbally that were not true, correct, and accurate.
Mr. Castor, is that communication from the whistleblower, from the whistleblower to the Inspector General to explain prior inconsistent statements reflected anywhere in the 299-page report?
RATCLIFFE: On October 2, Chairman Schiff’s spokesman, Patrick Boland, acknowledged publicly that the outlines of the whistleblower’s accusations against the President had been disclosed to the House Intelligence staff and shared with Chairman Schiff.
Mr. Castor, is that disclosure and Mr. Boland’s admission of that disclosure anywhere in this report?
CASTOR: I don’t remember seeing it.
RATCLIFFE: It’s not. I think all Members of Congress should be held accountable during this impeachment process, and to that end, if I have made any false statements about the whistleblower or the Inspector General’s testimony today, then I should be held accountable. The way to do that would be to release the Inspector General’s testimony or even just pages 53 to 73.
I would add that there’s nothing in those pages that would in any way identify or place at risk the whistleblower’s identity, nor would it reveal any information that in any way relates to, much less jeopardizes, national security.
Look, maybe there’s a believable explanation for why the whistleblower made statements that weren’t true or accurate about his contact or her contact with Chairman Schiff in writing and then again verbally.
Maybe there’s a good explanation for why the words Congress or congressional committee was confusing or not clear to the whistleblower.
Maybe there’s a good explanation for why the whistleblower also misled the Inspector General in writing on August 12 by stating, ‘I reserve the option to exercise my legal right to contact the committees directly’, when the whistleblower had, in fact, already contacted Chairman Schiff’s committee 2 weeks before he or she wrote that.
Maybe there’s a believable reason why Chairman Schiff was not initially truthful about his staff’s communications with the whistleblower.
Maybe there’s a good reason that explains all of these statements in writing and verbally that just weren’t true and correct. Maybe there is.
But there is no good reason for voting to impeach and remove from office an American President without allowing a single question to be asked of a single witness to get an explanation for why the Inspector General was not told the truth about contacts between the whistleblower and Chairman Schiff.
The bottom line is we should all be held accountable, and next November, every Member of the House will be asked this question: Did you vote to impeach the President without allowing any investigation into why the whistleblower that started it all did so by making statements in writing and verbally under penalty of perjury that were not true? Democrats may not care if that question ever gets answered, but the voters will. I yield back.