Schiff, Nunes clash over questions that could point to whistleblower's identity

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSunday Talk Shows: Lawmakers look ahead to House vote on articles of impeachment, Senate trial Supreme Court takes up fight over Trump financial records Democrats approve two articles of impeachment against Trump in Judiciary vote MORE (D-Calif.) clashed with Republicans on Tuesday after it appeared that Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesDemocrats launch bilingual ad campaign off drug pricing bill Koch campaign touts bipartisan group behind ag labor immigration bill Hillicon Valley: Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling | Tech legal shield makes it into trade deal | Impeachment controversy over phone records heats up | TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings MORE (R-Calif.), the panel's ranking member, was trying to zero in on the identity of the whistleblower who sparked an impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE.

Nunes questioned Lt. Col. Alexander VindmanAlexander VindmanWhite House limits number of officials allowed to listen to Trump calls with foreign leaders: report Impeachment sets up Ukrainian Americans for 2020 political role Director of National Intelligence Maguire should stand for the whistleblower MORE, a Ukraine specialist on the White House National Security Council (NSC), during a public hearing on the anonymous whistleblower who initially brought up concerns around a phone call between Trump and Ukraine's president in July.

Vindman said he had had discussions with two officials who were “properly cleared individuals with a need-to-know” basis for such information.

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Vindman identified a member in the intelligence community and George Kent, a senior State Department official who testified publicly last week.

Nunes then asked which intelligence agency the whistleblower works in, at which point Schiff intervened.

Schiff noted that he wanted to “make sure there is no effort to out the whistleblower through the use of these proceedings."

"If the witness has a good-faith belief that this may reveal the identity of the whistleblower, this is not the purpose that we are here for, and I want to advise the witness accordingly,” the California Democrat added.

Several Republican lawmakers seated in the public viewing gallery immediately reacted with an “Ah ha,” to Schiff’s interjection.

Nunes protested, saying it was the Republicans' time to question the witness, but both Schiff and Vindman’s lawyer said they would not participate in efforts to identify the person who first came forward with allegations about Trump’s July 25 phone call.

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Vindman said that he did not know the identity of the whistleblower, but also noted that he had been “advised not to answer specific questions about members of the intelligence community.”

Nunes told Vindman that he could either “answer my question or plead the Fifth,” referring to the Fifth Amendment.

Vindman still refused to identify the whistleblower.

At one point, Vindman also corrected Nunes on his title after the California Republican addressed him as “Mr. Vindman.”

"Ranking member, it's Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, please,” he said.

Republicans have repeatedly called for the whistleblower’s identity to be revealed and for the person to give a deposition, requests that Schiff blocked last week.