Rep. Adam B. Schiff and his fellow colleagues on the House impeachment management team spent nearly 24 hours last week repeatedly hyping the testimony from 17 witnesses interviewed during the House’s impeachment inquiry.
But they seem to have forgotten all about the testimony from an 18th witness.
Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s inspector general, delivered 179-pages worth of testimony before House investigators. Atkinson, it turns out, has direct knowledge of the origins of a complaint from a whistleblower that kicked off the whole impeachment probe.
While Schiff and his colleagues talk openly about the testimony of the 17 witnesses, members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence who interviewed Atkinson are not permitted to talk about the IG’s testimony.
But Republicans on that committee say his testimony should see the light of day.
“The reason it hasn’t been released is it’s not helpful to Adam Schiff. It is not helpful to the whistleblower,” said Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX). And Ratcliffe knows: he is among the lawmakers who attended the October interview of Atkinson. “It raises credibility issues about both of them.”
Schiff, Ratcliffe said, “is trying to bury that transcript.”
Because Atkinson’s testimony has been deemed classified, only members of the House intelligence committee have seen it, and President Trump’s legal team has not been allowed to view the transcript.
It is denied a copy.
Atkinson’s interview before House lawmakers covered the origins of the whistleblower complaint that led to the two articles of impeachment, the Washington Times reported. “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.”
Mr. Schiff denies he had contact with the whistleblower, but it was later revealed that his staff met with the whistleblower before the complaint was filed with Mr. Atkinson. The whistleblower is said to be a CIA analyst assigned to the White House who has ties to the Democratic Party and Mr. Biden.
Mr. Atkinson met with Mr. Schiff and his committee in October to discuss the whistleblower complaint in detail. House and Senate members were first briefed about the complaint when news of the whistleblower became public in September.
But the closed-door committee session remains a focus of House Republicans with knowledge of the interview.
Ratcliffe said Republicans have demanded that the transcript of the interview be released, noting that Atkinson identifies other fact witnesses in his testimony.
“It addresses the issue about contacts between Schiff, his staff and the whistleblower, and what the inspector general knows about that. So those are material facts that should be talked about, but Adam Schiff has prevented that,” Ratcliffe told The Washington Times.
“His testimony was noticed three days after the impeachment inquiry was announced. There is a 179-page transcript of questions and the IG’s answers under oath … same as with the impeachment inquiry interviews and depositions,” Ratcliffe said.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) agrees with Ratcliffe. “We should be allowed to take a look at that, but again they have stated numerous times in their brief they had overwhelming evidence — it would be so clear to everyone — and I haven’t seen that yet,” she said.
On Sunday, Trump weighed in on the testimony via Twitter.
“Why didn’t Schiff release this?” Trump wrote.
Why didn’t Schiff release this? https://t.co/ngxEqAIJU9
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2020