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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The world now knows that a so-called whistleblower complaint has ignited a partisan fury in America. At the center of the controversy is the highly-partisan and often untruthful Rep. Adam Schiff. Based on what is known so far, because of the actions of Adam Schiff, in a just world, the whistleblower complaint would be thrown out.

Our form of government is unlike any in the world or in world history. The level of transparency of our government affairs is remarkable. It includes a system that allows individuals who work within the government to expose government corruption. They do so through the so-called whistleblower statutes.


The purpose of those statutes, on their face, is nonpartisan. Their plain goal is to encourage people to come forward and give firsthand information on the operations of government, of what they have seen or heard — and, yes, sometimes that includes information they hear from others.

With respect to the discussion between President Trump and the Ukrainian president, the relevant procedure requires the “whistle blowing” employee to provide to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) his or her complaint before contacting the likes of Adam Schiff or his congressional intelligence committee.

The relevant language reads as follows:

“The employee may contact the congressional intelligence committees directly as described in clause (i) only if the employee —

    a. before making such a contact, furnishes to the DNI, through the IC IG, a statement of the employee’s complaint or information and notice of the employee’s intent to contact the congressional intelligence committees directly; and

    b. obtains and follows from the DNI, through the IC IG, direction on how to contact the congressional intelligence committees in accordance with necessary and appropriate security procedures.” 

The purpose of that language cannot be more clear. The DNI wants unvarnished information before it gets into the hands of potential partisans that could shape statements to fit their agenda. A complaint that is partisan jeopardizes national security because it disrupts our intelligence services operations for partisan gain.

We now know that the above procedure wasn’t followed in this case.

According to The New York Times account: The CIA officer approached a House Intelligence Committee aide with his concerns about Mr. Trump only after he had had a colleague first convey them to the CIA’s top lawyer. Concerned about how that initial avenue for airing his allegations through the CIA was unfolding, the officer then approached the House aide. In both cases, the original accusation was vague.

The House staff member, following the committee’s procedures, suggested the officer find a lawyer to advise him and meet with an inspector general, with whom he could file a whistleblower complaint. The aide shared some of what the officer conveyed to Mr. Schiff. The aide did not share the whistleblower’s identity with Mr. Schiff, an official said.

Obviously, that is not an indication that an unvarnished complaint was made. A simple review of the compliant indicates it was likely written by an attorney or with great input by an attorney. Nancy Pelosi, in her “60 Minutes” interview, gave an indication she was aware of what was on the call before its release. Who else gave input is as yet unknown and must be investigated. 

As for Adam Schiff, he comes to this so-called impeachment inquiry with a plate full of ethical baggage. Many of his pronouncements during the whole Russian investigation were outright false if not lies.

His comments on whether he spoke to the whistleblower in advance of the complaint, i.e. “We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower, we would like to,” earned him four Pinocchios from The Washington Post.

Given what he did, he is now a witness — or worse — to the whistleblower complaint process that was in violation of government procedures. It is also possible that Adam Schiff conspired to violate federal law.

As a result, Adam Schiff should be made to testify as to what he knew and when. Because he is a witness or worse to a potential crime, he should be made to step down as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He cannot be both fact-finder and witness and/or conspirator. 

Beyond that, it may well be the process was so tainted that in a normal legal proceeding, the evidence should be thrown out and the case dismissed. Of course, this impeachment isn’t a normal legal proceeding, it’s a political circus that will go on and on.  

At the very least, however, the ringleader Adam Schiff should be placed under the microscope if true justice for the American system is to be honored.

• Thomas Del Beccaro, the former chairman of the California Republican Party, is a litigator.


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