Enlarge ImageAdam SchiffThe truth behind House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff’s role in engineering President Trump’s impeachment may soon come out. Judicial Watch, a nonprofit group promoting government transparency, is suing to get the whistleblower’s emails.
That’s good news. Because no matter what comes of Trump’s Senate trial, Schiff should be held accountable for his devious methods.
The public also needs the truth about the so-called whistleblower. Real whistleblowers deserve to be treated like heroes. But Eric Ciaramella — the man Judicial Watch and many media accounts have identified as the whistleblower and who doesn’t deny it — is no hero.
To dignify Ciaramella with the term “whistleblower” misrepresents what he did. Sure, he filed what is technically called a whistleblower complaint. But he had no firsthand knowledge of Trump’s controversial July 25 phone call or motivations. Every allegation in the complaint begins with “I learned from multiple US officials,” or “multiple officials told me,” or “officials with direct knowledge informed me.” Just gossip. He never names any sources. Ciaramella acted as the anti-Trumpers’ front man. As for courage, not an ounce: He is cowering from public view.
Compare him to real whistleblowers. Jay Brainard, the top Transportation Safety Administration official in Kansas, blew the whistle this month, warning the TSA is lowering metal-detector sensitivity levels to shorten airport lines. He went on TV to warn against sacrificing safety for convenience.
Similarly, Boeing ex-employee Ed Pierson is blowing the whistle against the company for allegedly overworking assembly-line employees, leading to production errors that could cause 737 MAX planes to malfunction or crash. (Boeing denies a connection.)
Real whistleblowers speak from firsthand knowledge. They muster the courage to expose dangers or abuses that would otherwise go unreported. Movies are made about heroes like former cigarette company executive Jeffrey Wigand, who went on “60 Minutes” to expose the industry coverup of addiction.
During hearings, Schiff cracked his gavel repeatedly to silence questions from Republicans about the whistleblower. Truth is, Schiff was protecting himself. Even now, if the whistleblower talks, details of Schiff’s role in launching the complaint may come out.
What is already known is that on July 26, one day after Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president, Schiff hired Sean Misko to join his staff. Shortly after that hire, Schiff’s staff met with Ciaramella, a friend and co-worker of Misko’s in the intelligence community. Schiff’s staff gave Ciaramella “guidance” on how to make a complaint. A cozy arrangement. The emails will likely divulge more.
Schiff concealed these dealings until the New York Times caught him in the lie. Schiff also withheld from House investigators documents detailing how his staff aided the whistleblower.
The whistleblower filed his complaint with intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson on Aug. 12, also concealing that he had met with Schiff’s staff. When the complaint became public in September, Schiff feigned surprise.
Even worse, Schiff obscured how the whistleblower complaint ever saw the light of day. The big question is why Atkinson deemed the complaint “credible” enough to be reported to Congress — the trigger required for Schiff to launch an impeachment investigation.
The document contained nothing but “second-hand or unsubstantiated assertions” that regulations say are insufficient for a complaint to be acted on. Accounts of wrongdoing from co-workers don’t qualify. Atkinson’s Sept. 30 statement defending his decision to deem the complaint “credible” amounts to: “I did it, because I did it.” He never gave a reason.
Atkinson’s Oct. 4 closed-door testimony to the House Intelligence Committee undoubtedly offers answers, but Schiff refuses to let even House members see it. The transcripts of all the 18 other witnesses have been released, but not Atkinson’s. It’s a stunning omission.
By concealing that testimony, Schiff is propping up what Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel calls the whistleblower’s “hearsay report” and keeping Schiff’s own role in launching the complaint under wraps.
But the truth about Schiff’s intrigues will likely be uncovered in the emails Judicial Watch is seeking. Sadly, too late to spare the nation from impeachment.