In his presentation on behalf of President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial yesterday, White House Deputy Counsel Patrick Philbin raised the question of Adam Schiff and the whistleblower. Why have we not heard from him? Why has Schiff deep-sixed the testimony about him? RealClearPolitics has posted video of Philbin’s remarks along with this (lightly edited) transcript:
PHILBEN: I want to touch on one last point before I yield to one of my colleagues. That relates to the whistleblower. The whistleblower who we haven’t heard that much about who started all of this. The whistleblower we know from the letter that the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community sent that he thought that the whistleblower had political bias. We don’t know exactly what the political bias was because the Inspector General testified in the House committees in an executive session, and that transcript is still secret. It wasn’t transmitted up to the House Judiciary Committee. We haven’t seen it. We don’t know what’s in it. We don’t know what he was asked and what he revealed about the whistleblower. Now you would think that before going forward with an impeachment proceeding against the President of the United States that you would want to find out something about the complainant that had started all of it because motivations, bias, reasons for wanting to bring this complaint could be relevant, but there wasn’t any inquiry into that.
Recent reports, public reports, suggest that potentially the whistleblower was an Intelligence Community staffer who worked with then Vice President Biden on Ukraine matters, which if true would suggest an even greater reason for wanting to know about potential bias or motive for the whistleblower. At first when things started, it seemed like everyone agreed that we should hear from the whistleblower including Manager Schiff. I think we have what he said.
SCHIFF (tape): Yes, we would love to talk directly with the whistleblower.
We’ll get the unfiltered testimony of that whistleblower.
We don’t need the whistleblower.
PHILBIN: What changed? At first Manager Schiff agreed we should hear the unfiltered testimony from the whistleblower, but then he changed his mind and he suggested that it was because now we had the transcript. But the second clip there was from September 29th which was four days after the transcript had been released. But there was something else that came into play, and that was something that Manager Schiff had said earlier when he was asked about whether he had spoken to the whistleblower.
SCHIFF (tape): We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to.
PHILBIN: It turned out that that statement was not truthful. Around October 2nd or 3rd, it was exposed that the Manager Schiff’s staff at least had spoken with the whistleblower before the whistleblower filed the complaint and potentially had given some guidance, some sort to the whistleblower. After that point it became critical to shut down any inquiry into the whistleblower. During the House hearings, of course Manager Schiff was in charge. He was chairing the hearings. That creates a real problem from a due process perspective, from a search for truth perspective, because he was an interested fact witness at that point. He had a reason, since he had been caught out saying something that wasn’t truthful about that contact, he had a reason to not want that inquiry. It was he who ensured that there wasn’t any inquiry into that.
Now this is relevant here I think because as you’ve heard from my colleagues, a lot of what we’ve heard over the past 23 hours, over the past three days, has been from Chairman Schiff. He has been telling you things like what’s in President Trump’s head, what’s in President Zelensky’s head. It’s all his interpretation of the facts and the evidence trying to pull inferences out of things. There’s another statement that Chairman Schiff made that I think we have on video.
CHUCK TODD (tape): But you admit all you have right now is a circumstantial case.
SCHIFF: Actually, no Chuck. I can tell you that the case is more than that and I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now. Again, I think —
TODD: So you have seen evidence of collusion.
SCHIFF: I don’t want to go into specifics, but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of investigation.
PHILBIN: That was in March of 2017 when Chairman Schiff was ranking member of HPSCI was telling the public, the American public, that he had more than circumstantial evidence through his position on H that President Trump’s campaign had colluded with Russia. Of course, the Mueller Report, as Mr. Sekulow pointed out, after $32 million and over 500 search warrants or roughly 500 search warrants, determined that there was no collusion. That wasn’t true. We wanted to point these things out simply for this reason. Chairman Schiff has made so much of the House’s case about the credibility of interpretations that the House Managers want to place on not hard evidence but on inferences. They want to tell you what President Trump thought. They want to tell you don’t believe what Zelensky said. We can tell you what Zelensky actually thought. Don’t believe what the other Ukrainians actually said about not being pressured. We can tell you what they actually thought. That it is very relevant to know whether the assessments of evidence he’s presented in the past are accurate. We would submit that they have not been and that that is relevant for your consideration.