Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) prevented Republicans from asking impeachment probe witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the White House’s top Ukraine expert, some questions at his closed-door deposition in the Capitol basement Tuesday.
Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to figure out who the “whistleblower” is with their line of questioning during Vindman’s deposition.
Jordan, who witnessed Vindman’s deposition, said he could not go into explicit detail about the questions Schiff blocked. The Ohio lawmaker, however, explained to reporters:
[House Intelligence Committee] Chairman Schiff has prevented the witness from answering certain questions we had during the deposition. … When we asked [Vindman] who he spoke to after important events in July. Adam Schiff said, “No, no, no” we’re not going to let him answer that question. Even though at the start of every one of these depositions … he says, “This is not classified.”
Schiff is the leader of the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. The Democrat-led House Committees on Oversight and Reform, Intelligence, and Foreign Affairs are conducting the impeachment investigation.
While briefing reporters alongside Jordan, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) acknowledged that Schiff’s decision to block some questions had undermined his claim that the process is fair.
Even his claim now that [the process is fair because] Republicans can ask questions has been undermined because he is now directing witnesses not to answer questions that he doesn’t want the witness to answer … He has not cut off one Democrat. He has not interrupted one Democrat.
That reeks, and by the way, if you want to talk about a Soviet-style process, again, that might be what they do in the Soviet Union. Not in the United States of America.
He added that the behind-closed-doors impeachment process “has been rotten to the core.”
“We’ve been highly critical of the fact that it completely denies due process to Republican members of Congress as well as to the White House,” Scalise also said.
Jordan dismissed criticism from Democrats who say the Republicans were trying to find out who the “whistleblower” that triggered the impeachment probe is.
“We are just trying to get information that we are entitled to get, and the witness is supposed to answer our questions,” Jordan, the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, declared.
Jordan noted that he wants to talk to “half a dozen” sources cited by the “whistleblower” in the complaint that triggered the impeachment probe.
“It’s tough to determine someone’s credibility if you don’t know who they are, and you can’t put them under oath and ask them questions,” he added.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, told reporters that Republicans were trying to find out the “whistleblower’s” identity during Vindman’s deposition.
“What the Republicans are trying to do in there, very clearly in their questioning, is try to front-door or backdoor Lt. Col. Vindman into revealing who the whistleblower is, even though in his testimony, he said he didn’t know,” she proclaimed,
In his leaked opening remarks, Vindman said, “I want the Committees to know I am not the whistleblower who brought this issue to the CIA and the Committees’ attention. I do not know who the whistleblower is and I would not feel comfortable to speculate as to the identity of the whistleblower.”
Ukrainian-American Vindman is a decorated Army officer who serves as the director of European affairs at White House’s National Security Council (NSC). He listened to the infamous July 25 call between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky. The call is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.
In a complaint that sparked the probe, the “whistleblower” accused Trump of pressuring Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in exchange for aid. Trump and Zelensky have denied the allegation.