News & Politics

Schiff Throws Tantrum Over His Staff Getting 'Smeared' by Reports on the 'Whistleblower'

In this image from video, impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)

On Thursday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) asked the impeachment teams about the significance of a conversation between CIA analyst Eric Ciaramella — alleged to be the “whistleblower” who started the impeachment push — and Sean Misko, who left the White House to join Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) House Intelligence Committee. Schiff responded with a temper tantrum, accusing Republicans of engaging in “disgraceful” “smearing” of his staff.

The question centered on a key bit of dialogue reported by RealClearInvestigations reporter Paul Sperry. A staffer told him about a conversation between Ciaramella and Misko involving the need to “take out” President Donald Trump.

“After Flynn briefed [the staff] about what ‘America First’ foreign policy means, Ciaramella turned to Misko and commented, ‘We need to take him out,’ ” a staffer told Sperry. “And Misko replied, ‘Yeah, we need to do everything we can to take out the president.’ ”

This bit of dialogue seems to fit with the previous reporting about Ciaramella, who worked with former Vice President Joe Biden. If the “whistleblower” who started the impeachment inquiry by complaining about Trump’s Ukraine call — in which Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate potential Biden corruption with Burisma — himself has a conflict of interest involving Biden, that seems an important fact about the entire impeachment case. Of course, Schiff has shot down any attempt to pursue this important question.

True to form, Schiff shut down Johnson’s question about Sperry’s reporting, launching into a temper tantrum.

“First of all, there have been a lot of attacks on my staff. As I said when this issue came up earlier, I am appalled at some of the smearing of the professional people that work for the Intelligence Committee,” he began.

“This question refers to allegations in a newspaper article which are circulating smears on my staff and ask me to respond to those smears. And I will not dignify those smears on my staff by giving them any credence whatsoever. Nor will I share any information that I believe could or could not lead to the identification of the whistleblower,” Shiff continued. (Yes, he just said he would not share any information at all, even information that would not lead to the whistleblower’s identification.)

“Members of this body used to care about the protection of whistleblower identities. They didn’t use to gratuitously attack members of committee staff. But now they do,” he continued in a huff. “Now they do. Now they’ll take an unsubstantiated press article and use it to smear my staff. I think that’s disgraceful.”

Shiff went on to say that Trump likely applauded the question “because he wants his pound of flesh, and he wants to punish anyone that has the courage to stand up to him.”

The Democrat impeachment manager then became even more sanctimonious. “Well, I can’t tell you who the whistleblower is, because I don’t know. But I can tell you who the whistleblower should be. It should be every one of us. Every one of us should be willing to blow the whistle on presidential misconduct,” he quipped.

As Sperry himself pointed out, Schiff did not deny the reporting and he did not explain why he hired Misko.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.