Schiff has played a leading role in investigating the Trump-Ukraine scandal but hasn’t been truthful in the process, according to Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler.
Kessler laid out a compelling, fact-based argument that Schiff wasn’t honest when asked if he had advanced knowledge about the whistleblower’s concerns regarding the now-infamous phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a series of interviews.
“Schiff’s answers are especially interesting in the wake of reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post that the whistleblower approached a House Intelligence Committee staff member for guidance before filing a complaint with the Intelligence Community inspector general,” Kessler wrote.
Last month, Schiff sat down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who asked if he was in contact with the whistleblower, or even if he simply knew their identity.
“I don’t know the identity of the whistleblower … I don’t want to get into any particulars. I want to make sure that there’s nothing that I do that jeopardizes the whistleblower in any way,” Schiff told CNN when asked if the whistleblower has contacted him.
The Post called this answer a “classic dodge” and noted that the CNN host didn’t bother with a follow-up question – which helped Schiff avoid giving a potentially damaging answer.
“He managed not to mislead; he just simply did not answer the question,” Kessler wrote of Schiff.
“Schiff earns Four Pinocchios.”
The very next day, Schiff appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” where he seemingly graduated from dodging to lying, the Post says.
“We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower,” Schiff said on MSNBC.
Kessler noted that this is “flat-out false” given information that has since become available.
“Unlike the quick two-step dance he performed with Anderson Cooper, Schiff simply says the committee had not spoken to the whistleblower. Now we know that’s not true,” the Post’s fact-checker wrote.
A committee spokesman attempted to defend Schiff in a statement to the Post: “He intended to answer the question of whether the Committee had heard testimony from the whistleblower, which they had not… the whistleblower was then awaiting instructions from the Acting DNI as to how the whistleblower could contact the Committee. Nonetheless, he acknowledges that his statement should have been more carefully phrased to make that distinction clear.”
On Sept. 19, Schiff was at it again, according to the Post, when speaking with reporters at the Capitol.
“In the absence of the actions, and I want to thank the inspector general, in the absence of his actions in coming to our committee, we might not have even known there was a whistleblower complaint alleging an urgent concern,” Schiff said.
The Post’s fact-checker called this “misleading” comment “more dissembling” and noted that “his committee knew that something explosive was going to be filed with the IG.”
Kessler wrote there “are right ways and wrong ways to answer reporters’ questions if a politician wants to maintain his or her credibility” and there is “nothing wrong with dodging a question, as long as you don’t try to mislead.”
But Schiff “clearly made a statement that was false” on MSNBC and “compounded his falsehood” when speaking with reporters at the Capitol, Kessler wrote.
“The explanation that Schiff was not sure it was the same whistleblower especially strains credulity,” Kessler wrote. “Schiff earns Four Pinocchios.”
The Post’s Fact Checker team considered Four Pinocchios to be “whoppers” and most egregious offense outside of the rare “Bottomless Pinocchio.”
Republicans have also decried how Schiff, during a hearing last week, read a “parody” version of Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president.
Fox News’ Alex Pappas contributed to this report.
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