House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said the whistleblower’s testimony in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump is both “redundant and unnecessary” as the inquiry, according to Schiff, has gathered enough evidence.
Schiff wrote in a letter to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the Intelligence committee, that testimony from the whistleblower isn’t relevant now.
“The impeachment inquiry, moreover, has gathered an ever-growing body of evidence—from witnesses and documents, including the President’s own words in his July 25 call record—that not only confirms, but far exceeds, the initial information in the whistleblower’s complaint,” Schiff wrote. “The whistleblower’s testimony is therefore redundant and unnecessary.”
Schiff then added that “the individual’s appearance before us would only place their personal safety at grave risk” after calls to unmask the anonymous person.
The impeachment investigation has centered around allegations that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma. Democrats have claimed that quid pro quo was involved, which Trump has frequently denied.
According to a the transcript of the call, which Trump had declassified, Trump makes a request to Zelensky to “look into” the Bidens’ activities surrounding Burisma. Zelensky has denied there was any pressure on him to open any investigation.
Biden in 2016 forced the firing of top Ukrainian prosecutor Victor Shokin, who had been investigating Burisma, by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees; Biden bragged about the move during a videotaped speech on a panel last year. Trump cited that video in his request to Zelensky.
Nunes, in a letter of his own, asked that Schiff should testify in the House impeachment inquiry.
“On November 6th, you announced the beginning of public hearings associated with the Democratic Party’s partisan impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump,” Nunes wrote, reported Fox News. “Based on the precedent and lack of jurisdiction, the House Intelligence Committee should not take the lead in conducting such hearings; however, by now the American people know your desire to see the duly-elected president removed from office outweighs your sense of responsibility to running a functioning intelligence oversight committee.”
He added: “Prior to the start of your public show trial next week, at least one additional closed-door deposition must take place. Specifically, I request that you sit for a closed-door deposition before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees.”
Nunes also said that Schiff and his staff “met with or talked to the whistleblower who raised an issue with President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President [Volodymyr] Zelensky.”
“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 also 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, meanwhile, said in the letter that his “committee also will not facilitate efforts by President Trump and his allies in Congress to threaten, intimidate and retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously raised the initial alarm.”
However, if the articles of impeachment pass the House, some Senate Republicans have indicated that the whistleblower might be called to testify.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has said that President Trump should be able to face his accuser.
If “the whistleblowers’ allegations are turned into an impeachment article, it’s imperative that the whistleblower be interviewed in public, under oath, and cross-examined,” he argued. “Nobody in America goes to jail or has anything done to them without confronting their accuser,” he told Fox News on Oct. 6.
The public phase of the impeachment inquiry is set to start on Nov. 13, with George Kent, a top State Department official, and William Taylor, a top Ukraine diplomat, slated to testify to start off two days’ worth of hearings.
Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.