Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) demanded on Tuesday that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) testify under oath about his relationship with the whistleblower who ignited impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
“The whistleblower should answer questions under oath. But more importantly, Adam Schiff needs to answer questions under oath,” Stefanik told Fox News host Steve Doocy during an appearance on “Fox & Friends.” “I was the first member of Congress to ask when did Adam Schiff have access to the whistleblower.”
“We know now that that was before the whistleblower submitted his complaint to the inspector general,” she continued. “So there are a lot of serious questions about the coordination between the whistleblower and Chairman Schiff.”
House Democrats announced in September that they would be moving forward with an impeachment inquiry after a whistleblower’s testimony accused Trump of asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for using his position as vice president to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor who was looking into his son’s business dealings.
The reports were not confirmed at the time of the announcement, and it was not until a day later that the White House released a transcript of Trump’s exchange with Zelensky. After the transcript was made public, many have argued that it fails to show the direct quid pro quo agreement initially alleged.
The full House voted on a resolution last week outlining how the House Intelligence Committee will proceed with the hearings and gather evidence before turning over the process to the House Judiciary Committee to craft the articles of impeachment. The measure passed largely along party lines, 232-196, with only two Democrats defecting on the vote.
It was not until weeks after the impeachment inquiry kicked off that it was revealed that Schiff’s office had been in contact with the whistleblower prior to the initial complaint. The news came as the California congressman had been dishonestly contending that there was no contact. He has subsequently backed off his calls for the whistleblower to testify following the revelations.
“It’s interesting,” Stefanik said. “Adam Schiff at first wanted the whistleblower to testify, but as it became clear that there was coordination between the whistleblower and Adam Schiff and the Democratic staff members, now Adam Schiff is backtracking that, which is why our first witness will be Adam Schiff.”
Stefanik, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, noted while the resolution allows for Republicans to introduce witnesses, they all must seek approval from Schiff, who is leading the impeachment charge. As a result, it is unlikely that Schiff will not veto his appearance as a fact witness.
“This is a partisan resolution that was brought to the floor last week, passed with only Democratic support,” Stefanik said. “It limited our ability to subpoena witnesses, unless Adam Schiff signed off on it. It also allowed Adam Schiff to retract portions of testimony as they are released.”
“This has been a partisan process from the start. Adam Schiff has conducted himself as counsel to the witnesses, as judge and jury and the American people deserve transparency,” she continued. “These should have been open, bipartisan hearings from the start. Again, throughout this process, we have seen partisan cherry picking leaking coming from the Democratic side and it’s unfair to the American people.”
“Impeachment is more than a political buzz word,” Stefanik added. “This is serious constitutional process and the American people deserve access to 100 percent. They should be open hearings and the media deserves access.”
Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) applauded the New York lawmaker and backed her calls for Schiff to testify under oath.
“I’m so proud to serve with [Stefanik],” Cheney said. “She is exactly right — [Schiff] must be the first witness Republicans call. Of course, that would mean House Dems would actually have to abide by their own rules and let the GOP call witnesses. That would be a novel approach.”