by Chuck Ross
Republican California Rep. Devin Nunes on Friday formally called on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff to testify about his or his aides’ contacts with the Trump whistleblower as part of what he’s calling the impeachment “show trial” against President Donald Trump.
“Prior to the start of your public show trial next week, at least one additional closed-door deposition must take place,” Nunes wrote to Schiff on Friday.
“Specifically, I request that you sit for a closed-door deposition before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight Committees,” he continued, referring to the three congressional committees taking part in the impeachment inquiry.
In the letter, Nunes noted that Schiff supported calling two members of Congress — Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and then-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher — to testify as part of the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation.
Republicans want Schiff to testify about what he knew of the whistleblower complaint that kicked off the impeachment push. In the complaint, which was filed Aug. 12 with the Intelligence Community Inspector General, an unidentified CIA analyst raised concerns about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, including during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Schiff led the charge throughout September to force the complaint out into the open. In multiple media appearances, he indicated that he did not know the nature of the complaint, or the identity of the whistleblower. But Oct. 2, The New York Times reported that the whistleblower contacted a Schiff aide before filing the complaint. The aide reportedly told Schiff some of the details of the whistleblower’s allegations, and referred him to the Intelligence Community Inspector General.
Schiff has acknowledged that he should have been more clear regarding his office’s contacts with the whistleblower. But he has denied having direct contact with the whistleblower, and says that nothing improper occurred.
Nunes and other Republicans have not been satisfied by Schiff’s answer and have ramped up their calls for him to testify.
“Although you publicly claim nothing inappropriate was discussed, the three committees deserve to hear directly from you the substance and circumstances surrounding any discussions conducted with the whistleblower, and any instructions you issued regarding those discussions,” Nunes wrote. “Given that you have reneged on your public commitment to let the committees interview the whistleblower directly, you are the only individual who can provide clarity as to these conversations.”
Schiff initially wanted the whistleblower to testify to Congress about his complaint, but has backed off of that proposal in the wake of revelations about his office’s contact with the CIA analyst. Schiff and other Democrats now say that the whistleblower’s identity is irrelevant because many of the allegations in the complaint have been corroborated by other witnesses who have met with Congress.
Schiff has scheduled three witnesses to testify publicly next week in the first open hearings in the impeachment inquiry.
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Chuck Ross is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.