House Republicans came out swinging at the start of Wednesday’s first public hearing of the Intelligence Committee called as part of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
Proceedings had barely begun when Republican Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas said the whistleblower whose complaint concerning Trump began the chain of events that led to the hearing should testify before the panel.
“I seek recognition to make a motion that we actually subpoena the whistleblower for a closed-door secret deposition, so that the questions that should be appropriately asked of the whistleblower by our side and your side may be asked,” Conaway said to Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.
“And I would prefer rather than it be your single decision, that the committee speaks to that issue rather than just the chairman,” Conaway said.
The California Democrat replied to Conaway that the panel would vote on requests to subpoena witnesses after the testimony of those already scheduled to testify.
That brought a jab from Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.
Jordan asked when that vote might be taken so that the members of the committee could “have the whistleblower in front of us, something you — of the 435 members of Congress, you are the only member who knows who that individual is, and your staff is the only staff of any member of Congress that has had a chance to talk with that individual. We would like that opportunity. When might that happen in this proceeding today?”
Previous reports in The New York Times have indicated that the whistleblower met with members of Schiff’s staff before filing a complaint concerning a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Schiff on Wednesday denied Jordan’s assertion about the whistleblower.
“First, as the gentleman knows, that’s a false statement,” he said. “I do not know the identity of the whistleblower, and I’m determined to make sure that identity is protected. But as I said to Mr. Conaway, you’ll have an opportunity after the witnesses testify to make a motion to subpoena any witness and compel a vote.”
Schiff’s claim was attacked on Twitter.
Democrat Chairman Adam Schiff: “I do not know the identity of the whistleblower”
Schiff has repeatedly falsely claimed that his team has not spoken to the whistleblower
The Washington Post debunked Schiff’s false claim, giving him “4 Pinocchios” for his lie pic.twitter.com/QWmxblWSxd
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) November 13, 2019
It’s been 93 days since Adam Schiff learned the identity of the “whistleblower”
He colluded with him to write his complaint
Adam Schiff is lying…again.
How many lies will he get away with?
RT if Adam Schiff should be the one testifying under oath! pic.twitter.com/t5WKH3a2VB
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) November 13, 2019
In September on MSNBC, Schiff said, “We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower,” according to The Washington Post.
In assessing that claim, The Post’s fact-checker wrote, “This is flat-out false. Unlike the quick two-step dance he performed with Anderson Cooper, Schiff simply says the committee had not spoken to the whistleblower. Now we know that’s not true.”
The fact-checker awarded Schiff’s claim four Pinocchios — its top rating for falsity.
On Wednesday, Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York asked Schiff whether he would bar committee members from asking certain questions.
Schiff said he would only do so if the questions seemed to be leading toward identifying the whistleblower.