It didn’t take Rep, Devin Nunes, R-Calif., very long to strike pay dirt Tuesday while questioning Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman in week two of the Democratic Party’s dog and pony impeachment show trial.
Vindman, a National Security Council expert on Ukraine, and Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, listened in on President Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Nunes was asking each witness if they had talked to anyone in the media about the call, encouraged anyone to contact the media or spoke with anyone outside the White House about the call.
Williams cruised right through the questioning, stating that she had spoken to no one, but when it came to Vindman, he acknowledged that he spoke with two people outside the White House.
He named the first, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, but declined to name the second person, only to say it was a member of the intelligence community with a “need to know.”
Nunes asked Vindman what agency the second person was with and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee interjected to say “we need to protect the whistleblower.”
Schiff added, “I want to make sure there is no effort to out the whistleblower through these proceedings,” before advising Vindman accordingly.
Nunes clarified that Vindman had previously testified this he did not know who the whistleblower is.
“I do not know who the whistleblower is,” Vindman confirmed.
“How is it possible for you to name these people and then out the whistleblower?” Nunes asked.
Vindman said that he was advised by counsel not to answer specific questions about members of the intelligence community.
“What I can offer is that these were properly cleared individuals — properly cleared individual with a need to know.”
The ranking member pressed on the issue, telling Vindman he can either answer the question on which agency the individual is from or plead the Fifth Amendment.
Vindman’s counsel then interjected, saying his client was following the instructions of the chairman not to take any action which may reveal who the whistleblower is.
Schiff quickly jumped in to side with Vindman’s legal representation.
“Counsel is correct, the whistleblower has the statutory right to anonymity — these proceedings will not be used to out the whistleblower,” the chairman said.
Nunes’ focus on leaks was preceded by an 11-page letter from Sen. Ron Johnson, who stated “it is entirely possible” that Lt. Col. Vindman leaked information from Trump’s Ukraine call.
The Wisconsin Republican was speaking about “a significant number of bureaucrats and staff members within the executive branch have never accepted President Trump as legitimate.”
“They react by leaking to the press and participating in the ongoing effort to sabotage his policies and, if possible, remove him from office,” Johnson added. “It is entirely possible that Vindman fits this profile.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., raised an interesting question online after Vindman’s refusal to name the second individual.
“If Adam Schiff & LTC Vindman don’t know who the ‘whistleblower’ is, how would they know that naming the one person LTC Vindman spoke to in the intelligence community would out the “whistleblower”?” he tweeted.
If Adam Schiff & LTC Vindman don’t know who the “whistleblower” is, how would they know that naming the one person LTC Vindman spoke to in the intelligence community would out the “whistleblower”? ?
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) November 19, 2019
Townhall editor and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich summed it up even better, tweeting: “Surprise surprise, Vindman doesn’t want to discuss who he talked to in the intelligence community about this whole thing.”
Surprise surprise, Vindman doesn’t want to discuss who he talked to in the intelligence community about this whole thing
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) November 19, 2019
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