With public impeachment hearings starting today, there is one thing the judge/jury/prosecutor Adam Schiff does not want to be brought up: the whistleblower.
According to an unclassified memorandum describing the procedures for the impeachment inquiry hearings, Schiff will refer any GOP member who does bring up the whistleblower to the House Ethics Committee:
Whistleblower Protection and Confidentiality. The Committee has a long, proud, and bipartisan history of protecting whistleblowers—including from efforts to threaten, intimidate, retaliate against, or undermine the confidentiality of whistleblowers.
Among other authorities, the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2010 and the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act include procedures for Intelligence Community personnel to make protected disclosures to inspectors general across the Intelligence Community and to the congressional intelligence committees. 16 Among other things, Intelligence Community personnel are shielded from any action constituting reprisal or the threat of reprisal for making disclosures in accordance with these procedures.
The statutory framework also prevents obstruction of lawful communications by federal employees with Congress, and of congressional proceedings.17 And, as mentioned above, the Code of Official Conduct for Members of Congress requires that every Member “shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”18 The Committee on Ethics has historically viewed this provision as “encompassing violations of law and abuses of one’s official position.”19
As Byron York noted on Twitter, it was the whistleblower who started this entire process and framed the issue “in way House Dems have adopted for impeachment.” Yet, now Schiff is ordering the GOP not to even talk about the whistleblower during the hearings under the threat of an ethics committee investigation.
There’s another topic Schiff doesn’t want to be brought up during the public hearings either: the Bidens:
As explained in my November 9, 2019, response to the Ranking Member, it is important to underscore that the House’s impeachment inquiry, and the Committee, will not serve as venues for any Member to further the same sham investigations into the Bidens or into debunked conspiracies about 2016 U.S. election interference that President Trump pressed Ukraine to undertake for his personal political benefit. Nor will the Committee facilitate any efforts by President Trump or his allies to threaten, intimidate, or retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously and lawfully raised concerns about the President’s conduct.15
You got that? Joe Biden’s corrupt behavior on behalf of his son’s company, which was the reason the Bidens were even brought up, is also off-limits. As far as Schiff is concerned, Biden’s actions don’t merit any scrutiny as part of this process at all. By dismissing these allegations as “debunked conspiracies,” he’s proven that getting to the truth is not on his agenda. Trump’s guilt is, as far as he’s concerned, pre-determined, and he’s established rules for these hearings that are designed to protect Joe Biden as he runs for president.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis