“The intelligence community is beginning to withhold documents from Congress on the issue of Ukraine,” he said.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff alleged that the NSA and CIA may be withholding documents on Ukraine from Congress due to pressure from the White House, even as the Senate prepares to move forward on the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Schiff was asked about a POLITICO report that intelligence agencies officials don’t want to testify in public during an upcoming hearing in the House Intelligence panel on global security threats, asking that the session be held in private instead. Trump slammed the intelligence chiefs one year ago for the assessment of Iran, calling them “extremely passive and naïve” on the issue.
Schiff confirmed that report, and then asserted that Ukraine-related information is being withheld from Capitol Hill. Schiff blamed the White House for the failure to turn over the information to lawmakers.
“And I’ll say something even more concerning to me, and that is the intelligence community is beginning to withhold documents from Congress on the issue of Ukraine,” Schiff said. “The NSA, in particular, is withholding what are potentially relevant documents to our oversight responsibilities on Ukraine, but also withholding documents potentially relevant that the senators might want to see during the trial.”
Schiff added: “There are signs that the CIA may be on the same tragic course. We are counting on the intelligence community not only to speak truth to power, but to resist pressure from the administration to withhold information from Congress because the administration fears that they incriminate them.”
An Intelligence Committee official later said, “Both the NSA and CIA initially pledged cooperation, and it appears now that the White House has interceded before production of documents could begin.”
There were no details on what documents were being withheld or how this information may play into the Senate impeachment trial.
Schiff — who will serve as the lead House manager for Trump’s Senate trial — also criticized the first legal filing in the proceedings by the president’s defense team. That six-page document, released on Saturday night, called the House impeachment case against Trump a “brazen and unlawful attempt” to overturn the 2016 election.
But Schiff dismissed the filing as just a repackaging of the same GOP arguments from the House impeachment hearings.
“Well, it’s surprising in that it really doesn’t offer much new beyond the failed arguments we heard in the House,” Schiff said. “The facts aren’t seriously contested.”
All seven House managers then released a statement on Sunday morning criticizing the White House filing as well.
“Rather than honestly address the evidence against him, the President’s latest filing makes the astounding claim that pressuring Ukraine to interfere in our election by announcing investigations that would damage a political opponent and advance his reelection is the President’s way of fighting corruption. It is not,” said Schiff and Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), Val Demings (Fla.), Jason Crow (Colo.), and Sylvia Garcia (Texas).
“Rather it is corruption itself, naked, unapologetic and insidious. This is precisely why the President must be removed from office.”
Author: John Bresnahan