Pollak: Did Adam Schiff Out Himself as Leaker to Washington Post?

Adam Schiff
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) may have been an anonymous source for the Washington Post as it reported allegations that have led to the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Schiff may have outed himself during his opening arguments in the Senate trial of the president on Wednesday, as he cited an opinion article written by the Post editorial board — an odd reference in a presentation of factual evidence.

The House Intelligence Committee chairman cited a Sep. 5, 2019 editorial titled: “Trump tries to force Ukraine to meddle in the 2020 election.”

He said:

On September 25th [sic], the Washington Post editorial board reported concerns that President Trump was withholding military assistance for Ukraine, and a White House meeting, in order to force President Zelensky to announce investigations of Vice President Biden and purported Ukrainian interference in the U.S. election.

The Post editorial board wrote: “[W]e are reliably told that the president has a second and more venal agenda. He is attempting to force Mr. Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden. Mr. Trump is not just soliciting Ukraine’s help with his presidential campaign; he is using military aid the country desperately needs in an attempt to extort it.

Schiff used the editorial as factual evidence that Trump was “on notice” that his “scheme” had been discovered.

Notably, the Sep. 5 editorial closely tracked the accusations that were contained in the so-called “whistleblower” complaint, whose claims were not yet known to the public at the time.

The “whistleblower” had written to Schiff and to Sen. Richard Burr (R-MO) on Aug. 12, saying that he (or she) had received information that the president “is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

Schiff was eager to see that complaint released, urging the administration to provide it to his committee. On Sep. 13, the Wall Street Journal reported that Schiff had issued a subpoena to the Acting Director of National Intelligence to compel him to release the complaint.

At the time, Schiff maintained the conceit that he was not familiar with the content of the complaint, which was finally published Sep. 26. However, the New York Times exposed Schiff’s deception on Oct. 2, when it reported that the “whistleblower” had early contact with Schiff’s committee staff.

Given Schiff’s urgency to see the complaint reported and released, it is plausible that he — or someone close to him — was the source who “reliably told” the editorial board about the “whistleblower” allegations against the president.

The editorial board was likely a safer outlet than the news section, which would have been expected to investigate more fully the origins and credibility of the claim against the president before publishing it as reliable information.

The Post editorial helped create an atmosphere of suspicion and anticipation that led to the complaint’s release and the impeachment itself. And on Wednesday, the Post editorial conveniently provided a “fact” — a “reliably told” story — that Schiff could cite in his case for Trump’s removal.

But Schiff did not explain why he would treat an opinion article as “fact.” Editorials are not typically reliable sources of original reporting.

The most logical explanation is that Schiff considered the article “factual” because he himself was the source. He seems to have cited the Post in the same way the FBI in the “Crossfire Hurricane” case cited Yahoo! News to the FISA court without revealing Yahoo! was using the same source as the FBI.

That raises a number of questions that Republican Senators must address when opening arguments for both sides are over, and the Senate allows 16 hours for questions:

  • Was Schiff the anonymous source for the Post?
  • If so, why didn’t he disclose his role as a fact witness to the Senate?
  • And if so, why is he leading the case against the president?

Breitbart News contacted Schiff’s press representative for comment, but had received no response by publication.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.