As House Democrats disgrace themselves with their partisan vote to impeach President Donald Trump, it is Rep. Adam Schiff who should come under immediate investigation for possible expulsion over his role in perpetuating the Ukraine narrative targeting the president.
From the start, Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, offered seemingly conflicting accounts of his office’s alleged contact with the so-called whistleblower, as well as the timing of his knowledge of the so-called whistleblower’s complaint.
Schiff also infamously misrepresented Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president during a public hearing meant to justify the impeachment inquiry, thereby misleading the country in a manner that even CNN’s “fact-checker” found to be egregious.
And in a scandal almost entirely ignored by the news media, a staffer for Schiff’s House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence took a trip to Ukraine sponsored by a Burisma-funded think-tank just days after the so-called whistleblower officially filed his August 12 complaint after first interacting with Schiff’s office. Burisma, of course, is the natural gas company at the center of allegations regarding Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
The Schiff staffer’s first meeting in Ukraine on that curious trip was with acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, now a key witness for Democrats pursuing impeachment. That episode alone should be investigated by a Congressional committee.
There are also significant unanswered questions about another Schiff staffer’s ties to the Atlantic Council. That staffer, Sean Misko, has been described as “close friends” with Eric Ciaramella, whom RealClearInvestigations suggests is the likely so-called whistleblower.
Let’s take a closer look at these issues.
Regarding contact with the so-called whistleblower, House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes (R-CA) sent an official request asking Schiff to testify, arguing Schiff must answer questions about any conversations that he or his staff held with the so-called whistleblower.
Schiff has denied directly interacting with the so-called whistleblower, but has offered conflicting accounts about contact between his staff and the so-called whistleblower, as well as Schiff’s alleged knowledge of those purported contacts. There have also been questions about if anyone from Schiff’s office offered advice to the so-called whistleblower.
Nunes wrote that in August 2019, 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,” noted Nunes.
“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,” Nunes wrote.
Schiff and his office have offered conflicting statements on the timeline of the contact between the so-called whistleblower and the California Congressman’s office.
Speaking on September 17, Schiff told MSNBC, “We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to.”
Schiff’s spokesperson, Patrick Boland, was quoted on October 2 saying, “At no point did the committee review or receive the complaint in advance.” Boland said Schiff’s committee received the complaint the night before it publicly released the document.
On October 2, however, the New York Times reported that Schiff received some of the contents of the complaint through an unnamed House Intelligence Committee aide initially contacted by the so-called whistleblower, described as a CIA officer.
The Times reported the aide “shared some of what the officer conveyed to Mr. Schiff.” The referenced officer is the so-called whistleblower.
The newspaper also reported:
By the time the whistle-blower filed his complaint, Mr. Schiff and his staff knew at least vaguely what it contained.
Schiff conceded that he was not clear enough about his contact with the so-called whistleblower.
“I should have been much more clear,” Schiff said.
Any contacts would also raise immediate questions about the veracity of the so-called whistleblower’s complaint. According to reports, a checkbox on the complaint for disclosures about contacts with Congress or congressional committees was not filled out by the so-called whistleblower.
The complaint was purportedly based on Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president, which Schiff inexplicably misrepresented in a clear bid to justify the impeachment inquiry despite the prior release of an official transcript of the conversation.
Schiff’s mischaracterizations were so over the top that even CNN reached this damning conclusion in a “fact check” piece:
Schiff’s remarks did make it easy for viewers to get confused. He did not make clear which words he was taking directly from Trump’s comments in the rough transcript, which words were his own analysis, and which words were meant to be the comedic “parody” he later said he was intending.
At some points, Schiff’s words strayed quite far from what the rough transcript showed Trump saying.
Meanwhile, the glaring issue of a Schiff staffer’s mysterious visit to Ukraine is potentially deserving of its own independent probe.
Thomas Eager, a staffer on Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee, is currently a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Congressional Fellowship, a bipartisan program that says it “educates congressional staff on current events in the Eurasia region.
Burisma in January 2017 signed a “cooperative agreement” with the Council to specifically sponsor the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, where Eager serves as a fellow.
As Breitbart News reported, an itinerary for a trip to Ukraine in August organized by the Atlantic Council reveals that Eager held a meeting during the trip with Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, now a key witness for Democrats pursuing impeachment.
Breitbart News further reported that Taylor himself has evidenced a close relationship with the Atlantic Council think tank, writing Ukraine policy pieces with the organization’s director and analysis articles published by the Council.
Eager’s August trip to Ukraine with the Atlantic Council was billed as a bipartisan “Ukraine Study Trip” in which ten Congressional staffers participated.
A closer look at the itinerary for the August 24 to August 31 trip shows that the delegation’s first meeting upon arrival in Ukraine was with Taylor.
Spokespeople for Schiff’s office did not reply to multiple Breitbart News requests for comment about Eager’s meeting with Taylor.
The dates of the pre-planned trip are instructive. Eager’s visit to Ukraine sponsored by the Burisma-funded Atlantic Council began 12 days after the so-called whistleblower officially filed his August 12 complaint.
Eager is not alone. Another Schiff staffer linked to the Atlantic Council, Sean Misko, has been described as “close friends” with Eric Ciaramella, whom RealClearInvestigations suggests is the likely so-called whistleblower.
Misko reportedly joined Schiff’s staff at the House Intelligence Committee in August — the same month the so-called whistleblower’s complaint was filed after first reportedly interfacing with a staffer for Schiff’s office.
Misko in 2015 was a yearlong “Millennium Fellow” at the Burisma-funded Atlantic Council, which has been under the microscope for its ties to other individuals associated with the Trump impeachment inquiry.
Misko’s former position marks the second Schiff staffer who worked or currently works with the Atlantic Council. (See above for Thomas Eager’s position with the Atlantic Council).
Besides serving as a fellow at the Atlantic Council in 2015, Misko is also listed as providing a small donation of up to $999 to the think tank in 2016.
Other major donors that year include regular Atlantic Council donors Burisma, Google, and billionaire activist George Soros’s Open Society network.
Another donor that year was Perkins Coie, the law firm that represented the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and also reportedly helped draft the Google-tied CrowdStrike firm to aid with the DNC’s allegedly hacked server. Google’s parent company led a funding drive to provide seed capital to CrowdStrike.
On behalf of the DNC and Clinton’s campaign, Perkins Coie also paid the controversial Fusion GPS firm to produce the infamous, largely discredited anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.
Prior to working for Schiff, Misko was director for the Gulf States at the National Security Council from 2015 until mid-2018. Before that, Misko worked in the Obama-era State Department under Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Jake Sullivan.
The Washington Examiner previously described Misko as evidencing a “bro-like” friendship with alleged whistleblower Ciaramella, calling the duo “close friends.”
The newspaper reported the two “had similarly antagonistic attitudes toward the Trump administration and were witnessed by a former National Security Council (NSC) official, like Ciaramella, a nonpolitical appointee, to frequently be around one another.”
“My understanding was that they were friendly with one another,” said the former NSC official, who was described as senior to Ciaramella. “They would walk around the halls. Get lunch together and stuff like that.” He described them as “very much cut from the same cloth,” and their friendship as “bro-like.”
The Washington Examiner report continued:
The former official described Ciaramella as “very hostile” toward him when they first met, and he asked the CIA officer about the type of competitive strategies he had put in place to compete with the Russians. “And he looked at me like, ‘What are you talking about? We don’t do that stuff here. We don’t take on our adversaries here. We invite think tanks here to talk about issues.’”
According to the former official, Trump’s first national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn, who was fired by Trump after 24 days, wanted to “actually take the fight to our enemies and have real strategies, and it was such a contrast because whatever the hell the Obama NSC was doing, they were not taking on our adversaries.”
He said, “There was this weird cultural hostility to me asking him, ‘You know, are you guys doing your job here?’ He had a lot of arrogance about him,” adding that Ciaramella behaved like he had protection at the NSC, so he could be insubordinate to a more senior official.
A Real Clear Investigations report by investigative journalist and author Paul Sperry named Ciaramella as best fitting the description of the so-called whistleblower.
Officials with direct knowledge of the proceedings say Ciaramella’s name has been raised in private in impeachment depositions and during at least one House open hearing that was not part of the formal impeachment proceedings.
Federal documents show Ciaramella also worked closely with Joe Biden and worked under Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser. He also worked with former CIA Director John Brennan, an anti-Trump advocate who has faced controversy for his role in fueling the questionable Russia collusion investigation. Rice participated in Russia collusion probe meetings and reportedly unmasked senior members of Trump’s presidential campaign.
Sperry cites former White House officials saying Ciaramella worked for Biden on Ukrainian policy issues in 2015 and 2016, encompassing the time period for which Biden has been facing possible conflict questions for leading Ukraine policy in light of Hunter Biden’s work for Burisma.
Mark Zaid and Andrew Bakaj, the activist attorneys representing the so-called whistleblower, refused to confirm or deny that their secretive client is indeed Ciaramella.
As the questions about Schiff continue to pile up, meanwhile, the time has come to open an investigation into the controversial politician’s questionable actions that fueled the House’s impeachment of a sitting president.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this piece.