Panel to Hear ‘Very Soon’ From Whistle-Blower, Schiff Says
(Bloomberg) -- Congress expects to hear “very soon” from a whistle-blower whose complaint spurred an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said.
The process is proceeding even with Congress on recess, with an inspector general returning for a closed-door session this week to discuss other potential witnesses, said Democratic Representative Adam Schiff of California.
The timing of the whistle-blower’s appearance will depend on how quickly the security-clearance process for his or her lawyers can be completed, and notices of depositions were sent to five current or former State Department officials for this week, Schiff said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
“We’re moving forward with all speed,” he added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said the impeachment process “should move with purpose and expeditiously” but hasn’t laid out a specific timetable.
Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry of Trump last week amid a series of damaging revelations, including that the president withheld military aid to Ukraine before asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate top Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden during a July phone call.
The whistle-blower’s complaint also detailed alleged efforts by the White House to “lock down” records of the exchange.
On Friday, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo was subpoenaed for documents related to the complaint by three House committees as part of Democrats’ impeachment investigation. The same day, Kurt Volker, Trump’s special envoy to Ukraine, stepped down after he was named in a whistle-blower’s complaint, people familiar with the matter said. The committees are also seeking testimony from Volker and four other State Department officials.
Schiff, 59, said the whistle-blower “showed a lot of guts to come forward,” and that the committee is taking precautions to protect his or her identity -- especially in light of comments from Trump disparaging the whistle-blower and suggesting anyone who provided information is “close to a spy.”
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, said on ABC that Schiff should be removed because he “has already prejudged the case” and is an “illegitimate chairman.”
“If we want fairness here, we’ve got to put somebody in charge of that committee who has an open mind, not someone who wants to hang the president,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani initially said on ABC he wouldn’t cooperate with Schiff’s investigation, then said he would consider it -- and if Trump wants him to testify, “of course I’ll testify.”
Schiff said he’ll make the decision after all the facts are in about whether he’ll call Giuliani as a witness. He said Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney and mayor of New York City, “seems to think that I’m the judge and jury here,” but that the Republican-controlled Senate will hear any impeachment that the House may bring.
“I intend to hold president accountable, and I intend to do a thorough investigation,” said Schiff, who’s also a former federal prosecutor. “What we’ve seen already is damning.”
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