House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) called out Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) during the first public impeachment inquiry hearings on his history of trying to block questions to witnesses about the “whistleblower” during the previous closed-door depositions.
Raising a point of order in the beginning of the hearing, Stefanik asked Schiff, “Mr. Chairman, will you be prohibiting witnesses from answering members’ questions as you have in the closed-door depositions?”
Schiff responded to Stefanik, one of Congress’s youngest members at 35, with a condescending tone, “As the gentlewoman should know, if she was present for the depositions — .”
“Which I was,” she retorted.
“For some of them, yes,” he responded.
“Correct,” she said.
Schiff proceeded to defend his blocking of Republican members’ questions to the witnesses.
“The only time I prevented witnesses from answering questions, along with our counsel, was when it was apparent that members were seeking to out the whistleblower,” he said.
“We will do everything necessary to protect the whistleblower’s identity, and I’m disturbed to hear members of the committee who have in the past voiced strong support for whistleblower protections seek to undermine those protections by outing the whistleblower,” he said.
Stefanik reminded him that only he and his staff have direct knowledge of the “whistleblower’s” identity.
“Mr. Chairman, only one member and their staff on this committee has direct knowledge of the identity of the whistleblower,” she said.
Schiff then pounded his gavel to cut her off.
“The gentlewoman will suspend. …We will not permit the outing of the whistleblower, and questions along those lines, the counsel will inform their clients not to respond to. If necessary I will intervene. Otherwise I want members to feel free to ask any questions they like.”
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