Whistleblower contacted Schiff's committee before filing complaint: report

The CIA officer whose whistleblower complaint is at the center of the impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Title, release date revealed for Bolton memoir MORE  consulted the House Intelligence Committee before filing it, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The whistleblower initially had a colleague convey his concerns that Trump asked Ukraine's leader to intervene in the 2020 presidential election to the CIA's top lawyer before going to Congress, current and former officials told the Times.

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After concerns about how the internal CIA process was proceeding, the whistleblower then reportedly spoke to an Intelligence Committee staff member who suggested that the person hire a lawyer and file a complaint.

The staffer shared part of the whistleblower's concerns with the committee's chairman, Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffWhite House spokesperson: Media's 'obsession' with impeachment 'won't let up' Trump rips Chuck Todd for 'softball' Schiff interview Democrats, Republicans tussle over witnesses as vote approaches MORE (D-Calif.), but did not share the person's identity with anyone, according to the Times.

“When a whistleblower seeks guidance, staff advises them to get counsel and go to an IG. That’s what they’re supposed to do,” Schiff tweeted after the report was published.

“Like other whistle-blowers have done before and since under Republican and Democratic-controlled committees, the whistle-blower contacted the committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the intelligence community,” Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Schiff, told the Times.

The development will likely add to Trump's attack that the whistleblower was motivated by partisan interests.

Asked about the Times report during a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Trump called it a "scandal" and suggested without evidence that Schiff assisted in writing the whistleblower complaint, a redacted version of which was released publicly last Thursday. 

One of the whistleblower’s attorneys, Mark Zaid, later told The Hill that Schiff did not help his client write the complaint. 

“Absolutely not,” Zaid said. “No help or involvement.”

—Updated at 4:14 p.m. Morgan Chalfant contributed.