Judicial Watch announced Monday that it has filed an official complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics regarding House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) potentially improper communications and contacts with two congressional witnesses, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS and Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer.
BIG: @JudicialWatch vs Rep. Adam Schiff. Schiff has an ethics problem! Ethics Committee needs to act on our complaints on his mishandling of classified info and his irregular communications with anti-@realDonaldTrump witnesses. https://t.co/uvZiY1lDS6 … pic.twitter.com/zVqKsfpTjb
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) May 12, 2019
Specifically, the complaint, dated March 11, 2019, asks that Schiff be investigated for meeting with Simpson in Aspen, Colorado, in July 2018 and for having his staff coordinate with Michael Cohen before Cohen’s testimony to the House Oversight Committee earlier this year.
Photos emerged back in February of Schiff meeting with Simpson at a prestigious Aspen security conference. Questions have been raised because Simpson was a key witness in the House during the Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe at the time of the encounter.
Simpson’s firm Fusion GPS was hired on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to do opposition research on then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 election. Fusion GPS, in turn, hired Trump-hating British spy Christopher Steele to dig up dirt on the Republican candidate. His research led to the unverified Steele dossier alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The FBI went on to use Steele’s “dirty dossier” to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance warrants against Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page in October 2016.
“Mr. Simpson’s leadership of Fusion GPS and his centrality to events resulted in his having to testify before congressional committees or their staffs,” the complaint reads. “Specifically, Mr. Simpson testified before the House Intelligence Committee, of which Rep. Schiff was the ranking Democratic member, on October 16, 2018 – approximately three (3) months after the Aspen Security Forum.”
We note that following revelations in 2017 that Rep. Devin Nunes had informed President Trump that U.S. intelligence agencies had been engaging in “incidental collection” of his campaign’s communications, Rep. Schiff demanded that Rep. Nunes, then Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, recuse himself from any investigations involving alleged Trump collusion with Russia. Indeed, Rep. Schiff wrote the following on twitter:
This is not a recommendation I make lightly … But in much the same way that the attorney general [Jeff Sessions] was forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation after failing to inform the Senate of his meetings with Russian officials, I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president’s campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman.
Judicial Watch also raised concerns about possible coordination between the Intel chairman and Michael Cohen prior to Cohen’s testimony before Congress in February.
In the days before his testimony, Schiff reportedly sent staffers to meet with Cohen at least four times for a total of 10 hours.
Cohen admitted under questioning from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) that he had spoken with Schiff and others “about topics that were going to be raised at the upcoming hearing.”
Republicans had also wanted to talk to Cohen before his testimony, but were blocked by the Democrats.
During an interview on Fox News back in March, Jordan said that it’s normal for there to be “a little bit of interaction with a witness prior to a hearing, but 10 hours, several trips to his location in New York — that is very unusual, particularly when we asked for a deposition and weren’t given that opportunity.”
He also pointed out that Schiff initially claimed that his staff had only met with Cohen “to alleviate any fears that he had and talked about practical concerns about when to show up and where to report.”
But according to Fox, “The sources said the sessions covered a slew of topics addressed during the public hearing before the oversight committee — including the National Enquirer’s ‘Catch and Kill’ policy, American Media CEO David Pecker and the alleged undervaluing of President Trump’s assets.”
“They did 10 hours of preparation with this witness and he came in front of Congress and still lied to us!” Jordan exclaimed. “We think a total of eight lies.”
Reps Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) sent a six-page letter to Attorney General William Barr citing several instances where they said Cohen had been less than truthful during his seven-hour testimony. Republicans later discovered that Cohen also lied about his efforts to obtain a pardon from President Trump.
“Again, Rep. Schiff’s conduct creates the appearance of unethical collusion and synchronization of efforts that calls into question whether Cohen’s testimony was a legitimate congressional hearing or well-rehearsed political theatre,” the complaint reads.
“Rep. Schiff’s conduct and contacts with witnesses must be treated with the same gravity that Reps. Schiff and Pelosi accorded Rep. Nunes’s actions,” the complaint continued. “Rep. Nunes recused himself for a time from certain oversight responsibilities with respect to the Russia-Trump investigations.”
Judicial Watch filed a separate ethics complaint on April 13, 2018, against Rep. Schiff and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) “for improperly confirming classified information in violation of House rules.” The House Ethics Committee has “yet to take any public action on the complaint,” according to the government watchdog.
In a statement Monday, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said:
“Rep. Schiff has an ethics problem. His and his staff’s irregular communications with anti-Trump witnesses reflect poorly on the credibility of the House and its committees’ investigations. It has long been apparent that Rep. Schiff can’t be trusted to lead the Intelligence Committee, so we hope that Democrats on the Ethics Committee stop protecting Mr. Schiff and take action.”