The operative part of the title of this post is the phrase before he has said he did. As the grudge war between the Democratic-led House and the White House moves forward, and misstatements of fact or half-truths will work against the speaker. In this case, advantage Trump.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has said repeatedly that he had no knowledge of a whistleblower complaint alleging that Donald Trump had pressured the Ukrainian president to reignite a criminal inquiry into Joe Biden’s son until the administration released the document to the public ten days ago. Schiff’s claim began to seem suspicious when it was pointed out last week that the complaint, which was addressed to Schiff as head of the House Intelligence Committee, carried a date of Aug. 12.
But now we are learning via the New York Times that Schiff was party to an early account of the whistleblower’s accusations.
The Democratic head of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, learned about the outlines of a C.I.A. officer’s concerns that President Trump had abused his power days before the officer filed a whistle-blower complaint, according to a spokesman and current and former American officials.
The C.I.A. officer approached a House Intelligence Committee aide with his concerns about Mr. Trump only after he had had a colleague first convey them to the C.I.A.’s top lawyer. Concerned about how that initial avenue for airing his allegations through the C.I.A. was unfolding, the officer then approached the House aide. In both cases, the original accusation was vague.
The House staff member, following the committee’s procedures, suggested the officer find a lawyer to advise him and meet with an inspector general, with whom he could file a whistle-blower complaint. The aide shared some of what the officer conveyed to Mr. Schiff. The aide did not share the whistle-blower’s identity with Mr. Schiff, an official said.
The Times writers hint at Schiff’s innocence in this whole affair, quoting a spokesman for the congressman as saying, ““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.”
But none of that explains why Schiff felt compelled to lie about having advance knowledge of the complaint in the first place. A hint at an answer might be found in his melodramatic embellishment of Trump’s phone called with Ukrainian Pres. Zelensky. Maybe, that is, Schiff was waiting for just the right moment when the announcement would have the greatest impact. Or maybe he is just a pathological liar. He wouldn’t be the first Democrat to suffer that defect.
Whatever the explanation, as the inquiry into impeachment moves forward, Schiff’s having revealed himself to be untrustworthy is certain to come back and bite him.