Nice try. In an attempt to get around contemporaneous cross-examination, attorneys for the whistleblower at the heart of Ukraine-Gate now say he does not want to testify before the congressional committee he previously engaged. Instead, the lawyers want to just submit his written testimony into the record:
Lawyers for the CIA officer whose whistleblower complaint helped ignite an impeachment inquiry into President Trump have asked Congress whether their client could submit testimony in writing instead of appearing in person, according to people familiar with the matter.
The request reflects concerns about whether the whistleblower could testify to Democrats and Republicans without revealing his identity, and fears that doing so would lead to it being publicly leaked, jeopardizing his personal safety. The intelligence committees haven’t yet responded to the inquiry about potential written testimony, the people said.
Not to get too snarky about it, but … how is this different than what the whistleblower already did? His complaint to the House Intelligence Committee was written testimony, even if it was entirely second- and third-hand information. The point of submitting that complaint was to get the committee to look into the matter in its usual manner of investigation, which is to say, holding hearings and interviewing witnesses as a panel, including the testimony of the whistleblower himself.
The Wall Street Journal’s sources can’t recall anyone asking for such a concession in the past, let alone having it granted:
Such measures would be considered extraordinary. A former congressional intelligence official who worked on whistleblower issues said he could recall no precedent for such steps, adding that there also had never been a whistleblower complaint as high-profile as the one regarding Mr. Trump’s actions concerning Ukraine.
Supposedly the whistleblower wants to protect his anonymity for reasons of personal security. That may well be one good reason, but others are also emerging — such as where he’s worked in the past, and with and for whom. The IG who handled the complaint noted that the whistleblower had a political bias and potential connections, and as John discussed last night, the Washington Examiner reported that he worked with Joe Biden in the Obama White House:
A retired CIA officer told the Washington Examiner: “From everything we know about the whistleblower and his work in the executive branch then, there is absolutely no doubt he would have been working with Biden when he was vice president.”…
A former Trump administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said Biden’s work on foreign affairs brought him into close proximity with the whistleblower either at the CIA or when he was detailed to the White House.
“This person, after working with Biden, may feel defensive towards him because he feels [Biden] is being falsely attacked. Maybe he is even talking to Biden’s staff,” the former official said. “Maybe it is innocent, maybe not.”
With this in mind, the proposal to have him only answer questions in writing is transparently disingenuous. His previous contact with committee staff, combined with Adam Schiff’s four-Pinocchio lies about it, call into question the whistleblower’s motivations and judgment, two issues House and Senate Republicans on the intelligence committees can and will legitimately raise. His attorneys are using personal security as a smokescreen to prevent any kind of effective cross-examination, period.
If the whistleblower doesn’t want to appear, then his testimony should be discarded entirely. This was his party — if he doesn’t want to show up, then the rest of us can just stay home as well.