Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee had his hands full right out of the gate in Wednesday’s dog and pony impeachment show trial, as Republican lawmakers took advantage of the opportunity to get answers on when they can expect the Ukraine whistleblower to testify.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. interrupted proceedings with a parliamentary inquiry on a GOP request for certain witnesses to be called.
Schiff responded to say that three of the witnesses have been scheduled for next week.
“Those are your witnesses, Mr. Chairman, what about the additional six witnesses,” she countered.
He told Stefanik she could make such an inquiry after today’s witness testimony, but she came right back with a point of order.
“Mr. Chairman, will you be prohibiting witnesses from answering members questions, as you have in the closed door depositions?” the GOP lawmaker asked.
Schiff replied to say that he only did so to protect the identity of the whistleblower.
Stefanik interrupted to say, “Only one member and their staff on this committee has direct knowledge of the identity of the whistleblower.”
This being a direct shot a Schiff amid reports that the whistleblower, a CIA official, contacted his staff on the committee prior to registering his complaint.
“We’ll not permit the outing of the whistleblower and questions along those lines — counsel will inform their clients not to respond. If necessary, I will intervene,” Schiff said.
Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, then made a motion.
“I seek recognition to make a motion that we actually subpoena the whistleblower for a closed-door secret deposition so that the questions that should be appropriately asked of the whistleblower by our side and your side may be asked,” Conaway said. “I would prefer that rather than it be your single decision, that the committee speak to that issue, rather than just the chairman.”
Again, Schiff put the issue off until after today’s testimony.
This prompted Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, newly appointed to the House Intel panel, to jump in.
“Do you anticipate when we might vote on the ability to have the whistleblower in front of us?” Jordan asked. “Something you, the 435 members of Congress, you’re the only member who knows who that individual is and your staff is the only staff of any member of Congress who has had a chance to talk with that individual. We’d like that opportunity. When might that happen in this proceeding today?”
Chairman Schiff responded by claiming he does not know the identity of this person.
“As the gentleman knows, that’s a false statement. I do not know the identity of the whistleblower and I’m determined to make sure that identity is protected,” he said. “But as I said to Mr. Conaway, you’ll have an opportunity after the witnesses testify to make a motion to subpoena any witness and compel a vote.”
The vote being on a Democrat-majority panel, of course.
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