The New York Times reported that the whistleblower at the center of President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal initially approached a House intelligence committee aide, who suggested that the whistleblower find a lawyer to advise him and meet with the intelligence community inspector general to file a whistleblower complaint. Now, right-wing media are claiming that House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) improperly colluded with the whistleblower to launch an investigation into Trump.
On October 2, The New York Times reported that Schiff “learned about the outlines of a C.I.A. officer’s concerns that President Trump had abused his power days before the officer filed a whistleblower complaint” because the whistleblower first “approached a House Intelligence Committee aide with his concerns.” The aide “followed procedures,” recommending that the officer get a lawyer and referring him to an inspector general.
According to Susan Hennessey, Lawfare executive editor and Brookings Institution senior fellow, “This is literally how the process is supposed to work. Everyone did what they were supposed to do.” NBC News correspondent Ken Dilanian wrote that right-wing media’s spin is “deeply misleading,” explaining, “Intel officers complain to the oversight committee two or three times a month. The staff tells them what this person was told: Get a lawyer, file a formal complaint with the inspector general.” And Olivia Gazis, CBS News’ intelligence and national security reporter, tweeted that spokespeople for both Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA) told her “that it would be ***standard practice*** for intel committee to tell a potential whistleblower to hire counsel and file a complaint with an agency IG or the [intelligence community] IG.” Gazis emphasized that this assertion is bipartisan, writing, “Both parties say this.”
Still, Trump’s allies in the media, who have been grasping for a clear and consistent talking point to combat the impeachment inquiry, have jumped at the opportunity to misrepresent the facts, asserting that the Times report shows that Schiff colluded with the whistleblower or even wrote the complaint himself and calling for an investigation into Schiff.
On Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Andy McCarthy said, “The more you see that Schiff is insinuated in it, the more that you see that this complaint could not have been written by the whistleblower -- it’s very lawyered-up as a document. This looks like a big project that a lot of people were involved in.”
Fox News host Tucker Carlson said that Schiff “orchestrated the story in secret long before … anyone else in the country heard about it.” Carlson added that the Times article “gravely damages the credibility of the claims Schiff and others are making.”
On Tucker Carlson Tonight, The Federalist’s John Daniel Davidson said that “if there is collusion going on, it’s collusion between the House intelligence committee chair, Adam Schiff, and the whistleblower,” adding, “This is a really serious revelation that we found out today.” Davidson also claimed, “The whistleblower likely violate[d] federal law.”
Fox News host Sean Hannity berated the “Democrats’ idiotic impeachment inquiry, which is totally based on the whistleblower complaint that the shifty Schiff himself had a hand in creating, clearly.” Hannity called for an “independent ethics investigation” into Schiff.
The Federalist’s Sean Davis claimed, “The anti-Trump whistleblower and his team coordinated with Rep. Adam Schiff.”
Davis later tweeted that Democrats are “running the EXACT same script from the [Christine Blasey-Ford] hoax,” referring to Blasey-Ford’s report of sexual assault by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh that she initially detailed in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Davis also claimed that “just like with Ford, evidence shows the allegations are false.”
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh claimed the New York Times report proves that Schiff “helped the whistleblower compose it, write it, put it together in an official complaint -- not the inspector general.” Limbaugh asserted that the Times’ story shows that “this has been a political operation from the get-go.”
Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk also referenced the reported sexual assault by Kavanaugh in comparison to the whistleblower complaint, claiming that “this is just like Dr. Ford & Dianne Feinstein” and that “Schiff was in on this from the beginning.” Kirk called for Schiff to be removed, writing, “Stop the hoax.”
Newsmax’s John Cardillo asked on Twitter, “Does anyone believe that Schiff staffers DIDN'T write the whistleblower complaint?”
Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume claimed the Times report “puts the whole impeachment inquiry in a new light.” He added, “There’s no getting around the appearance that collusion-truther and Trump antagonist Schiff was a partner in this from the start.”
Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton offered a “coup update,” tweeting, “Schiff's collusion with the @RealDonaldTrump ‘whistleblower’ is a major scandal and is part of a pattern of his unethical conduct.” Fitton also called on Schiff to resign as head of the House intelligence committee.
The Federalist’s David Harsanyi called on Schiff to “answer a very simple question: Did he or his office help the whistleblower craft their complaint?”
Conservative publication RedState published an article titled “Adam Schiff Coordinated The Whistleblower Complaint Before It Was Filed With The Inspector General.”
Pro-Trump comedian Terrence Williams declared “Schiff needs to resign,” writing that the “whistleblower came to him before making a complaint & he helped write the complaint.”
Far-right blog The Gateway Pundit wrote that the whistleblower was “partisan” and “broke the rules” because he “contacted Schiff before filing complaint.”
The Daily Caller’s Derek Hunter tweeted, “We now know @RepAdamSchiff was coordinating with the so-called whistleblower BEFORE any complain[t] was filed, we can assume he was involved in the drafting of the complaint itself.” Hunter added, “That might help explain why it was so wrong and reads like it was written by a hack lawyer.”
Conservative commentator Stephen Miller claimed that “Schiff had access to the complaint before the DNI even had it,” adding, “That appears really bad.”
The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross claimed Schiff’s involvement amounted to an “information laundering operation.”
Far-right publication InfoWars suggested Schiff “fabricate[d] the existence of the whistleblower,” adding that “when this blows up in his face, it’s going to take down the entire Democrat party for 2020 and beyond.”