Trump allies charge Schiff with 'orchestrating' whistleblower complaint, but evidence doesn't support charge

The New York Times published a story on Wednesday revealing that the federal whistleblower who set off an impeachment inquiry into President Trump met with the staff of the House Intelligence Committee days before he filed his complaint.

In the meeting with the committee staff, the whistleblower expressed concern that his superiors at the CIA, who had been alerted of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, would not handle the matter correctly, the Times reported. The staffers recommended the whistleblower hire a lawyer and told him to file a whistleblower complaint.

Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the committee, was later told about the meeting, but the whistleblower’s identity was not revealed to him.

At a Wednesday press conference with Finish President Sauli Niinstö that took place just hours after the Times published their story, Trump sought to portray the article as proof of what he sees as a “witch hunt” led by Schiff.

President Trump (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

“I think it’s a scandal that he knew before. I’d go a step further — I think he probably helped write it,” Trump said of Schiff. The president’s talking point was quickly echoed by his supporters, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Matthew Rosenberg, one of the authors of the piece in the Times, disputed the president’s characterization of the story.

Schiff also disputed that he or his staff had done anything wrong.

There is no indication that advising a whistleblower to seek legal counsel and file an official complaint is anything but standard practice for members of Congress or their staff, as the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed Wednesday.

But Trump, who has spent the past week accusing Schiff of treason, among other crimes, for paraphrasing his call to Zelensky on the floor of the House, appeared delighted by the story in the Times — a publication that at other times, including during the same press conference, he has described as part of the “fake” and “corrupt” media.

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