The Hill: Schiff accuses Trump of ‘witness intimidation’ over whistleblower complaint

By September 26, 2019 September 30th, 2019 Democracy, Impeachment, Ukraine

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Thursday denounced President Trump‘s remarks about those involved in a whistleblower complaint focused on his dealings with Ukraine, arguing Trump’s comments amounted to “witness intimidation.”

“The President’s suggestion that those involved in the whisteblower complaint should be dealt with as ‘we used to do’ for ‘spies and treason’ is a reprehensible invitation to violence against witnesses in our investigation,” Schiff tweeted after reports surfaced that Trump described the whistleblower and officials who gave them information as “almost a spy.”

“All Americans must denounce such witness intimidation.”

Speaking at a private fundraiser at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York on Thursday morning, Trump suggested that the whistleblower and other unnamed White House officials cited in the complaint committed treason, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing a recording it obtained.

The New York Times confirmed Trump’s comments, citing a person briefed on what took place.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

“Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call — heard something and decided that he or she or whoever the hell they saw — they’re almost a spy,” Trump said, according to the Los Angeles Times, adding that he wanted know “who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information?”

“Because that’s close to a spy,” he continued. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

The comments from Trump arrived the same morning that a declassified version of the whistleblower complaint focused on the president’s interactions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was released to the public.

The complaint largely focuses on Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani‘s efforts to push Ukraine to investigate unsubstantiated allegations about former Vice President Joe Biden and his dealings in Ukraine related to an energy company on whose board his son Hunter Biden sat.

The whistleblower, whose identity remains unknown, alleges that they received information from several government officials that Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign government in the 2020 U.S. election.”

The figure also states that allegations about a July phone call between Trump and Zelensky stemmed from “multiple White House officials with direct knowledge.”

The White House on Wednesday released a memo of the call that appears to line up with details from the complaint, showing that Trump asked Zelensky to work with Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr.

Trump has repeatedly lashed out at Democrats and the news media over their reaction to the revelations. He’s also questioned the motives of the whistleblower, claiming in a tweet earlier this week that the anonymous figure was a “partisan hack.”

Following a House Intelligence Committee hearing focused on the acting director of national intelligence’s handling of the whistleblower complaint, Trump derided Schiff as someone with “zero credibility.”

“We’ve done so many things that are so incredible … and I have to put up with Adam Schiff on an absolutely perfect phone call to the new president of Ukraine,” Trump told reporters at Andrews Air Force Base.

This piece was originally published at The Hill.