When House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff was asked on MSNBC in September whether he had spoken to the whistleblower, Schiff replied that his committee had not.
“We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower,” he said. “We would like to, but I’m sure the whistleblower has concerns, that he has not been advised, as the law requires, by the inspector general or the director of national intelligence just as to how he is to communicate with Congress.”
Following reports that aides in Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee did have contact with the whistleblower, Schiff has faced a barrage of criticism from those claiming he was less than honest in his answer. President Donald Trump has also argued that this contact was illegal.
Facts First: While one can debate the meaning of the word “directly” in Schiff’s reply, it seems fair to criticize his comments, given that staffers of his committee did speak with the whistleblower prior to his interview on MSNBC. However, to call such a meeting illegal is wrong, since it was in keeping with standard whistleblower procedures.
According to a report from the US Government Accountability Office on what Congress should do with information from a whistleblower, it is common practice for whistleblowers to go to congressional oversight committees for guidance.
As first reported by The New York Times, the whistleblower reached out to a House Intelligence Committee aide, seeking guidance from the committee, prior to filing a complaint.
The staff of the committee told the whistleblower to reach out to the intelligence community inspector general and seek legal counsel, according to a statement from Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Schiff. The Times reported that Schiff “learned about the outlines” of the whistleblower’s concerns prior to the complaint being filed.
A Democratic committee official argued last week that Schiff’s answer on MSNBC was clear and accurate, claiming that Schiff was saying he and the committee had not officially interviewed the whistleblower.
Regardless, Schiff still omitted the important fact that committee aides had spoken to the whistleblower.
CNN’s Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju contributed to this report.