The Democrats want impeachment to disgrace President Trump “for life” and tilt the 2020 election. Not if Sen. Lindsey Graham has his way. Graham is proposing post-impeachment investigations by the Senate to “get to the bottom” of the Democrats’ impeachment hoax. That will pin the disgrace where it belongs — on the party that dragged the nation through an unwarranted ordeal.
Meanwhile, Vice President Pence is urging the country to “acquit and move on.” The Washington Post reports many Republican senators feel the same.
Not so fast. It’s not time to move on. These Senate investigations will be essential both to uncover House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s intrigue in engineering the whistleblower complaint and to expose the solid reasons Trump had for asking the president of Ukraine to help the U.S. investigate the Bidens.
Graham said it’s “important” to bring the whistleblower in for questioning to see “if the whistleblower was working with people on Schiff’s staff that wanted to take Trump down.”
What has already come to light is that on July 26, one day after Trump’s controversial call with the Ukrainian president, Schiff hired a friend of the alleged whistleblower to join his staff. Shortly afterward, Schiff’s staff met with the whistleblower and guided him on how to file a complaint.
Media outlets have identified the whistleblower as Eric Ciaramella. He doesn’t deny it.
Fox News’ Laura Ingraham reports that she obtained a series of State Department emails showing Ciaramella met with Ukrainian prosecutors at the White House in January 2016, when he served on the National Security Council as a Ukraine expert. The prosecutors were concerned about Hunter Biden’s lucrative board position on the corrupt energy company Burisma, which was a target of an investigation.
Ciaramella isn’t an unbiased informant like whistleblowers should be. He was aware of the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine in 2016 and now he has a leading part in the Democrats’ playbook to protect them.
Graham’s investigation also needs to examine why intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson rated the suspect whistleblower complaint “credible” and sent it to Congress — the trigger required for Schiff to launch an impeachment investigation.
Whistleblower regulations say that “secondhand or unsubstantiated assertions” are not sufficient, but that’s all Ciaramella could provide. He wasn’t on the July 25 call. Atkinson testified to the intelligence community behind closed doors, and probably offered answers. But Schiff refused to release Atkinson’s testimony, even to the senators during the trial. A stunning concealment.
Schiff shuts down any questioning about the whistleblower. Don’t be fooled. That’s Schiff protecting himself. No law shields whistleblowers from a congressional inquiry.
Weeks ago, Senate Finance Committee staff interviewed an IRS whistleblower who says he heard secondhand that senior Treasury officials meddled in the IRS audit of the president or vice president’s tax returns.
That IRS whistleblower also lacked firsthand knowledge of misdeeds. Yet House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, a Democrat, used that whistleblower complaint to make his case for the release of Trump’s back taxes. Concocting phony whistleblower complaints is the Democrats’ new weapon of choice. That’s why Graham is right to insist the whistleblower who launched impeachment be grilled in front of the Senate.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York.