Just when you think the campaign to take out Trump can’t get any shadier, House Democrats are now considering “extraordinary steps” to prevent Republicans from learning the identity of the whistleblower who drew attention to the president’s call with Ukraine, which prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s formal impeachment inquiry — an inquiry that has still not seen a floor vote.
Not only is Schiff’s team considering masking the whistleblower, who is reportedly a CIA officer, but they are looking at having the person testify somewhere off-site and may prevent lawmakers from asking questions, the Washington Post reported.
The unprecedented move would be a “highly unusual arrangement,” the newspaper reported.
More from the Washington Post:
House Democrats are weighing extraordinary steps to secure testimony from a whistleblower whose complaint prompted an impeachment inquiry, masking his identity to prevent President Trump’s congressional allies from exposing the individual, according to three officials familiar with the deliberations.
The steps under consideration include having the whistleblower testify from a remote location and obscuring the individual’s appearance and voice, these officials said.
The efforts reflect the deepening distrust between Democrats running the impeachment inquiry of Trump and their GOP colleagues they see as fully invested in defending a president who has attacked the whistleblower’s credibility and demanded absolute loyalty from Republicans.
This follows reports that Schiff received details about the whistleblower complaint against Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president days before it was officially filed.
The New York Times reported that the CIA officer conferred with Schiff’s aides on the House Intel Committee, this coming after Schiff had said: “We have not spoken directly to the whistleblower.”
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif, ranking member on the House Intel Committee, told the Washington Examiner last week that Democrats are conducting a secret impeachment to hide a lack of evidence.
“I call it faux impeachment,” Nunes said. “By running it in the House Intelligence Committee, they’re trying to keep all of the information from the American public. And I understand why. ecause every witness we have that comes in bombs out for them.”
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the GOP Whip, took to Twitter to ask the obvious question – “What are they trying to hide?”
“This entire process has been a scam. Dems now plan to only allow themselves and their staff to know the whistleblower’s identity while concealing it from Republican committee members. This is unprecedented. What are they trying to hide??” he tweeted.
This entire process has been a scam.
Dems now plan to only allow themselves and their staff to know the whistleblower’s identity, while concealing it from Republican committee members.
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) October 7, 2019
In an appearance on CNN, Mike Rogers, a former House Intel chairman, called the effort to hide the whistleblower’s identity from Republicans “absolutely absurd.”
The whistleblower’s attorney, who now represents a second whistleblower who has come forward, has expressed concern for his client’s safety — the second source is said to have firsthand knowledge of the president’s call, overcoming the inconvenience of the first source’s secondhand knowledge.
On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that if the Democrats’ impeachment effort reaches the Senate, he will be sure to call whistleblowers to testify publicly.
“Here’s what’s going to happen: If the whistleblowers’ allegations are turned into an impeachment article it’s imperative that the whistleblower be interviewed in public, under oath, and cross-examined,” Graham said on “Sunday Morning Futures,” adding that no one in America “goes to jail or has anything done to them without confronting their accuser.”