WaPo Gives Schiff Four Pinocchios for Whistleblower Claim

Rep. Adam Schiff / Getty Images
October 4, 2019

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) four Pinocchios for falsely claiming the House Intelligence Committee had not heard from the Ukraine whistleblower.

During a September interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Schiff said the committee, which he chairs, had not spoken directly with the whistleblower prior to receiving an official whistleblower complaint. Subsequent revelations have shown this claim to be false.

"Have you heard from the whistleblower? Do you want to hear from the whistleblower?" interviewer Sam Stein asked Schiff.

"We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to," Schiff said.

On Wednesday, however, the New York Times reported that the whistleblower, believed to be a CIA officer, approached an aide on Schiff's committee with concerns about President Donald Trump's July phone conversation with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. The aide told the whistleblower to follow the protocol for filing a whistleblower complaint, and to retain counsel.

The aide then shared some of the whistleblower's information with Schiff, the Times reported, prior to the whistleblower formally filing a complaint.

In light of these facts, Kessler called Schiff's claim "flat-out false."

Kessler also noted that several days after his Morning Joe appearance, Schiff told reporters that his committee might not have heard about the whistleblower complaint if not for an inspector general approaching the committee. Kessler called this second claim "some more dissembling."

A spokesman for the committee told Kessler that Schiff does not know the identity of the whistleblower, did not communicate with him or her, and did not view the complaint until it was provided to the committee.

Kessler wrote that despite this hedging, Schiff had still made a false statement to the media:

But Schiff on "Morning Joe" clearly made a statement that was false. He now says he was answering the wrong question, but if that was the case, he should have quickly corrected the record. He compounded his falsehood by telling reporters a few days later that if not for the IG's office, the committee would not have known about the complaint. That again suggested there had been no prior communication.

Kessler gave Schiff four Pinocchios, the worst rating on the Post's scale.