Schiff Says He Regrets Saying ‘We Have Not Spoken Directly With the Whistleblower’

October 3, 2019 Updated: October 3, 2019

The Democrat leading the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, under increasing pressure amid fabricating a phone call transcript and seeming to mislead the public over his contact with the person who filed a complaint against Trump, said that he regrets his remarks made during a live television interview last month.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, received information from the so-called whistleblower before the person, who has not been identified publicly, filed a complaint against Trump, according to a New York Times report on Oct. 2.

Schiff’s spokesman, Patrick Boland, confirmed the contact but claimed what happened was “a regular occurrence, given the committee’s unique oversight role and responsibilities.”

“Consistent with the committee’s longstanding procedures, committee staff appropriately advised the whistleblower to contact an inspector general and to seek legal counsel,” he added.

Schiff went on MSNBC in mid-September and said, “We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) walks to a secure facility in the Capitol in Washington to prepare for depositions in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Oct. 1, 2019. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

Schiff told the Daily Beast website on Wednesday that he didn’t know whether the complaint was written by the same person who approached his staff, adding he “should have been much more clear.”

“We try not to confirm when people have come in. I was really thinking along the lines of wanting to get him to come in to testify,” Schiff said. “I regret that I wasn’t much more clear.”

Daily Beast reporter Sam Stein, an MSNBC contributor, said during an appearance on the network early Wednesday that Schiff “clearly wasn’t being forthright in that interview with us a couple weeks ago and he should have been.”

Schiff suspected the whistleblower who approached his staff was the same person who filed the complaint but did not know for certain, according to the reporter.

“I will say, this puts him in some trouble,” Stein said.

zelensky speaks about phone call
President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hold a meeting in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

The latest revelation involving Schiff, along with his fabricating parts of the Trump-Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky transcript while appearing to read from it during a House Intelligence Committee meeting last week, has thrust the lawmaker back into infamy again.

Schiff was a leading proponent of the Russia-Trump collusion theory and claimed at one point early in Trump’s presidency that he had evidence showing Trump colluded with Russia. That alleged evidence was never shared publicly.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team said in its report earlier this year that they could not establish conspiracy or cooperation between Trump or his campaign and Russia.

Following the fabrication, a Republican representative introduced a motion to condemn and censure Schiff. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) signed the resolution on Wednesday. Trump has called on Schiff to resign, a call members of Congress have not endorsed as of yet.

After news broke of Schiff learning of the whistleblower’s version of events before the complaint was filed, a number of lawmakers said he should step down from his chairman position and a slew of congressmen and woman signed the censure motion.

“…Given the breaking news today that Adam Schiff had early access to the whistleblower & DID NOT share it with his own committee—instead he manipulated this information & played partisan political games. He should immediately step down as Chair,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement on Twitter.

“Schiff told the media on September 17: ‘We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to.’ He lied. The question is why?” McCarthy wrote in a statement.

Democrats, though, defended their colleague.

“Rep. Adam Schiff is one of the smartest and most well-respected members of Congress. As the chair of House Intel Committee, he has an obligation to look into the whistleblower’s allegations,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “That is a check on presidential power enshrined in our constitution, not treason.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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