Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) responded Wednesday to the New York Times‘ bombshell report that the whistleblower went to a House Intelligence Committee aide with concerns about President Trump, which were then passed on to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), before he filed the whistleblower complaint.
“Shocker (not really),” Zeldin tweeted.
“@RepAdamSchiff knew the whistleblower allegations before the whistleblower’s atty & before there was a whistleblower complaint. No surprise who told this person to be a whistleblower, hire an atty & file a complaint w no 1st hand knowledge,” he added.
Shocker (not really)…@RepAdamSchiff knew the whistleblower’s allegations before the whistleblower’s atty & before there was a whistleblower complaint. No surprise who told this person to be a whistleblower, hire an atty & file a complaint w no 1st hand knowledge. https://t.co/yeg2lwOagV
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) October 2, 2019
The Times reported Wednesday that Schiff learned about the “outlines” of the whistleblower’s concerns about Trump “days before” he filed a complaint against Trump.
Schiff’s prior knowledge “explains how Mr. Schiff knew to press for the complaint when the Trump administration initially blocked lawmakers from seeing it,” the Times reported.
The report revealed that the whistleblower, a CIA officer, first had a colleague tell the CIA’s top lawyer about his concerns, but then went to a House Intelligence Committee aide.
The aide suggested the officer find a lawyer to advise him and file a whistleblower 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 told the Times.
A spokesman for Schiff, Patrick Boland, denied that there was anything amiss.
He told the Times:
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.
He also told the Times that Schiff never saw any part of the complaint or knew precisely what the whistleblower would deliver.
“At no point did the committee review or receive the complaint in advance,” he said.
The Times reported that the CIA officer’s colleague took his concerns to the CIA’s general counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood, who began a preliminary inquiry by contacting a deputy White House counsel, which alerted the White House that complaints were coming from the CIA.
After CIA and White House lawyers began following up on the complaint, the CIA officer became nervous.
“Contacts” in the National Security Council told the CIA officer that White House lawyers authorized a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky be put in a highly classified computer system — a claim that also became part of the whistleblower complaint.
The whistleblower then went to Schiff’s aide, followed his advice, and filed a complaint to Intelligence Community Inspector General Mike Atkinson. “The complaint was filed in consultation with a lawyer, officials told the Times.
Filing the complaint with Atkinson gave the whistleblower added protections against reprisals and also allowed him to legally report on classified information, the Times reported.
A former official told the outlet that House Intelligence Committee members are allowed to receive classified complaints, but are not allowed to make them public. A complaint forwarded to the committee by the inspector general “gives it more latitude over what it can publicize.”
After Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire determined it was not an “urgent concern” that should go to Congress within 14 days, Schiff sent him a letter and called him and publicly released a letter seeking the complaint that sparked a fury of speculation about Trump’s actions with Ukraine. Schiff then subpoenaed Maguire.
The Times reported:
Mr. Schiff’s intense push took Mr. Maguire and his aides by surprise, current and former intelligence officials said. In other cases of lawmakers seeking classified material that the intelligence agencies were reluctant to share, including whistle-blower complaints, both sides usually tried to resolve the matter by holding quiet discussions,
Boland called the whistleblower courageous.
“Only through their courage did these facts about the president’s abuse of power come to light,” he told the Times.
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