GOP lawmaker: Schiff should be first witness Republicans call to testify in impeachment inquiry

GOP lawmaker: Schiff should be first witness Republicans call to testify in impeachment inquiry
© Greg Nash

Rep. Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikKoch campaign touts bipartisan group behind ag labor immigration bill Lawmakers introduce bipartisan bill to allow new parents to advance tax credits CNN's Bianna Golodryga: 'Rumblings' from Democrats on censuring Trump instead of impeachment MORE (R-N.Y.) on Tuesday said that House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSupreme Court takes up fight over Trump financial records Democrats approve two articles of impeachment against Trump in Judiciary vote McConnell, White House lawyer huddle on impeachment strategy MORE (D-Calif.) should be the first individual Republicans call to testify in the next phase of the House impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed MORE.

Stefanik, a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Fox News that Schiff needs to answer questions "under oath" in light of revelations that a government whistleblower corresponded with a House Intel panel aide before filing a complaint.

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"I was the first member of Congress to ask, 'When did Adam Schiff have access to the whistleblower?' We know now that that was before the whistleblower submitted his complaint to the inspector general," she said.

"So there are a lot of serious questions about the coordination between the whistleblower and Schiff," Stefanik added, noting that the whistleblower should testify before Congress as well. 

"It's interesting, at first Schiff wanted the whistleblower to testify. But as it became clear that there was coordination between Adam Schiff and the Democratic staff members, now Schiff is backtracking. Which is why our first witness will be Schiff," Stefanik continued.

The comments from Stefanik zero in on the revelation from last month that an Intel Committee staffer communicated with the government whistleblower before sharing some of their concerns with Schiff. The staffer did not share the figure's identity with Schiff. 

The aide also advised the figure to find a lawyer and to file a formal whistleblower complaint, processes that Schiff and other intelligence experts have said are standard procedure. 

But the news led Republicans to argue that Schiff was involved in the drafting of the whistleblower complaint. Stefanik immediately called on Schiff to step down as the Intelligence Committee chairman, saying that he "manipulated" information related to the whistleblower complaint and "played partisan political games." 

Schiff has helped lead a fast-moving impeachment inquiry that has included closed-door depositions from numerous former and current administration officials. The inquiry is centered around the accusation that Trump urged Ukraine to open an investigation into 2020 presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Media organization fights Trump administration over Ukraine documents FOIA Buttigieg releases list of campaign bundlers MORE and his son, Hunter, over unfounded allegations of corruption. 

House Democrats are also probing whether Trump tied nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine's willingness to investigate the Biden family and the 2016 election. 

The House last week passed a resolution establishing rules for open hearings and the questioning of witnesses by House committee members and staff. The measure, which passed without any support from the GOP, will give House Republicans on the Judiciary and Intelligence committees the opportunity to request witnesses and documents, but Democrats may still block their requests.

Following the passage of the resolution, Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsImpeachment obliterates tinges of comity in House Overnight Defense: Mattis downplays Afghanistan papers | 'We probably weren't that good at' nation building | Judiciary panel approves two impeachment articles | Stage set for House vote next week Trump invites Judiciary Republicans to gathering after they missed White House party during impeachment markup MORE (R-Ga.), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, suggested that Schiff should the first witness questioned by the panel.  

"This has been a partisan process from the start. Adam Schiff has conducted himself as counsel to witnesses, as judge and jury," Stefanik said on Fox News. "The American people deserve transparency."

Schiff's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.