Schiff Doormats: CNN, MSNBC Defend Schiff Receiving Heads Up from Whistleblower

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In the first hour since they finally acknowledged a bombshell New York Times story about liberal media confidant/Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) knowing in advance about the whistleblower being used to impeach President Trump, CNN’s The Lead and MSNBC Live circled the wagons Wednesday afternoon to defend Schiff.

And it should be noted that the only reason either network began talking about it was thanks to President Trump’s joint press conference with the prime minister of Finland, in which Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts and Trump alluded to it.

 

 

On MSNBC Live, host Ali Velshi tossed to congressional correspondent Geoff Bennett, who went right to work on behalf of Schiff to obviously knock Trump but also bash Roberts, who summarized the story during the press conference to the President.

Bennett defended Schiff by ruling that Schiff’s team were the whistleblower’s best option because “[t]here was some concern about the way that the complaint was being handled” in their own agency, “so at that point the whistleblower then approached the House Intelligence Committee to get some guidance about how to convey the nature of the complaint.”

Without naming Roberts, Bennett trashed him for having “completely misrepresented” their dearly beloved and having “teed[ed] the President up” (click “expand”):

At no time, according to the Committee, did Mr. Schiff learn about the substance of the complaint, so here is a statement from Patrick Boland, the spokesperson for Adam Schiff, spokesperson for the Committee, as conveyed to Hill producer Alex Moe. So he says this: “The whistleblower contacted the Committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the intelligence community. At no point did the Committee review or receive the complaint in advance.” He continues, “The Committee did not receive the complaint until the night before the acting Director of National Intelligence’s opening hearing before the Committee, more than three weeks after the legal deadline by which the Committee should have received the complaint.”

So in that press conference we just saw, where the question was conveyed to President Trump that Adam Schiff might have had advance notice of what the complaint was about, the question was completely misrepresented and teed the President up – President Trump up to make the claim that Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had some hand in writing it, which is completely, patently false according to the reporting and according to the statement from the Committee, Ali. So hopefully that clears some of that up.

Later that hour, Velshi had on political author Chris Whipple and after the two played psychologist, diagnosing Trump, Velshi suggested “a civics lesson” about how whistleblowers are “an integral part of government and business” even though Trump “is now trying to paint this as a conspiracy with Adam Schiff.” 

Whipple replied that “it’s a ridiculous notion” and “it's no mystery that the whistle-blower wanted to reach out to the Hill and get at least some kind of a heads up on where to go,” and that it was because “the whistle-blower was concerned because as we now know it, it had been bottled up by the White House and the Department of Justice.”

Speaking of MSNBC, it was on their network that Schiff appeared to have lied on September 17's Morning Joe when he stated that he had “not spoken directly with the whistleblower.” The person he directly lied to was the Daily Beast’s Sam Stein, but naturally, he tweeted a defense of Schiff’s lying.

Over on an extended edition of CNN’s The Lead, the sentiment was similar. Host and frequent Schiff interviewer, Jake Tapper initially focused on the President’s unsubstantiated claim that Schiff helped pen the complaint instead of The Times story.

But panelist and Never Trumper Bill Kristol shifted gears by dismissing “the attack on the whistleblower” as “particularly noxious”, because “[s]o far as we can tell this man or woman went through all appropriate procedures” and “acted totally appropriately” by telling Schiff ahead of time.

Chief Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny agreed, asserting viewers to not be distracted because the real focus should still be on the President’s phone call. He added that such tipping was no different than what happened during the Benghazi probe. Thankfully, this wasn’t on the same network as Ned Price.

Zeleny then added (click “expand”):

It’s a specialty. Some lawyers specialize in drunk driving cases, some specialize here in Washington, in whistle-blower cases, so that is what you do, which is why chairmanship spokesperson is not saying, you know, there's nothing wrong here. This is what they were doing. They were going there for guidance. So, the President believes he caught chairman Schiff in something here. This is pro Forma. This is how it works. So, I think, taken, you know, stock of everything, right now we know that what Dana said earlier, the biggest development so far today and the day is young, is that there could be more articles of impeachment because of obstruction of Congress.

In the next segment, Tapper expressed disgust with the President’s claim regarding Schiff (“just make stuff up and just say it in front of the world”) and went to senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju

Raju first stated that Schiff’s team had responded to The Times by asserting that, in their words, “at no point did the committee review or receive the complaint in advance.” 

Raju continued on by regurgitating/rewording this train of thought, taking the words of Schiff’s team as fact (click “expand”):

Now, what they do acknowledge is that the whistle-blower had approached an aide on the committee for “guidance” about the proper channels of actually filing the complaint and according to the spokesman for Adam Schiff, he says that this is common practice that's done in Republican and Democratic-run committees alike, that oftentimes whistleblowers come forward and they need some guidance from the people who know how that process works to tell them how it works. So, they said they haven't seen — only the first time they saw the complaint is when the rest of the full House Intelligence Committee saw the complaint, which was the evening before the acting Director of National Intelligence testified in an open setting about what was in there, but, Jake, at the moment saying there's absolutely no truth to what the President is alleging. 

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To see the relevant transcript from October 2's MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi, click “expand.”

MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi
October 2, 2019
3:13 p.m. Eastern

ALI VELSHI: Alright, one thing the President brought up during his news conference is a report from The New York Times that the House Intelligence Committee learned about the outlines of the whistleblower’s concerns about the President days before the complaint was filed. The House Intelligence Committee is now responding to that report. NBC’s Geoff Bennett joins us now from Capitol Hill. Let’s just hit on that last piece of news, Geoff. What — there’s some sense that the House knew about this report. Tell me about what they knew.

GEOFF BENNETT: Right, so The New York Times, Ali, is reporting that Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Chairman, got advance notice that the whistleblower had a complaint to make. The New York Times reports that the whistleblower tried to elevate this complaint through the agency where he or she works. The Times reports the name of that agency. I will not say the name of that agency out of respect for the whistleblower’s privacy. There was some concern about the way that the complaint was being handled and so at that point the whistleblower then approached the House Intelligence Committee to get some guidance about how to convey the nature of the complaint. At no time, according to the Committee, did Mr. Schiff learn about the substance of the complaint, so here is a statement from Patrick Boland, the spokesperson for Adam Schiff, spokesperson for the Committee, as conveyed to Hill producer Alex Moe. So he says this: “The whistleblower contacted the Committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the intelligence community. At no point did the Committee review or receive the complaint in advance.” He continues, “The Committee did not receive the complaint until the night before the acting Director of National Intelligence’s opening hearing before the Committee, more than three weeks after the legal deadline by which the Committee should have received the complaint.” So in that press conference we just saw, where the question was conveyed to President Trump that Adam Schiff might have had advance notice of what the complaint was about, the question was completely misrepresented and teed the President up – President Trump up to make the claim that Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had some hand in writing it, which is completely, patently false according to the reporting and according to the statement from the Committee, Ali. So hopefully that clears some of that up.

(....)

3:56 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS WHIPPLE: But I think we're in a scary place. I think — just want to underline something that Matt Miller said earlier, it’s the President's state of mind. You know, in the darkest days of Watergate when Richard Nixon was walking the halls, talking to the oil portraits, and drinking heavily, James Schlesinger, the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, made sure he had the nuclear codes safe. Richard Nixon's mental state was far superior I think to Donald Trump's mental state. We saw it today. So we — we are in a scary place I think right now. 

VELSHI: Right because this is not about firing a random person. The — the language that he's using is — he's talked about civil war. He's talked about traitors. He said he wants to find this whistle-blower and everybody who talked to the whistle-blower. He talked about a coup. A coup is a violent uprising. Impeachment is not a violent uprising. It’s proscribed by law. But the language, it may or may not be President Trump who does the bad thing. He might cause he could — he could set us into a war. But people might act on his words. 

WHIPPLE: Well, and he's gone from angry crazy to apoplectic and I couldn't help thinking as I was watching him today about something a very senior former White House official told me who knows the President well. He said this is a man who fears no god and no man. He didn't say no woman and I think Nancy Pelosi has him terrified. You know, we saw her this morning. She was focused. She was laser-like. She gave this very powerful civics lesson, a lesson that Trump has never absorbed. I think he's just terrified. 

VELSHI: Let's talk about a civics lesson. The whistle-blower is — operates under a system that is designed to protect people who want to come forward and say I think something is wrong, right? It is an integral part of government and business. The President is now trying to paint this as a conspiracy with Adam Schiff, the head of the Intel — the House Intelligence Committee. He's floating that out there. 

WHIPPLE: Well, it's a ridiculous notion, but at least so far as we know at this point. Based on what we know, it's no mystery that the whistle-blower wanted to reach out to the Hill and get at least some kind of a heads up on where to go. 

VELSHI: How this plays out. 

WHIPPLE: How this plays out because, in fact, if not for the I.G. and the Director of National Intelligence's office, we — we might not know about that complaint to this day. 

VELSHI: Right.

WHIPPLE: The — the I.G. gave Capitol Hill a heads up, gave Schiff's office a heads up. I think the whistle-blower was concerned because as we now know it, it had been bottled up by the White House and the Department of Justice. 

To see the relevant transcript from CNN’s The Lead: White House in Crisis on October 2, click “expand.”

CNN’s The Lead: White House in Crisis
October 2, 2019
3:06 p.m. Eastern

JAKE TAPPER: President Trump also just accused congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a Democrat from California, of helping to write the whistle-blower complaint. We should point out that one of the whistle-blower's lawyers who I just contacted, just asked him, is there any truth that Schiff or the committee helped the whistle-blower write the complaint in any way? And the lawyer said, “absolutely not.” That was a response to a New York Times story on how the whistle-blower reached out to Congressman Schiff before filing the complaint. There's a lot that the President just said. I could spend probably about an hour and a half fact-checking it. Let me make a couple notes. In addition to the accusation that Schiff helped the whistle-blower write the complaint, which the whistle-blower's lawyer said absolutely not., no truth to that — the President said “Biden and his son are stone-cold crooked.” We should note the Ukrainian prosecutor has said that he has seen no evidence that Hunter Biden, the former vice president's son, did anything wrong and there is no evidence that former Vice President Joe Biden did anything wrong but the President keeps making this charge over and over. 

(....)

3:09 p.m. Eastern

BILL KRISTOL: I think the attack on the whistle-blower, if I just say is particularly noxious. So far as we can tell this man or woman went through all appropriate procedures. The invest — inspector general said so and the direct of intelligence, a Trump appointee set the whistle-blower acted totally appropriately. When at some point the complainant was sent to the Hill to Congress as it’s supposed to be, then he may have met with Chairman Schiff to let him know that there was this complaint bottled up. But that seems to have been — that was weeks after — I think, I take more than a month after probably the actual complaint was submitted through channels. So, that attack is an example of Trump's total disregard for legal procedures or in this case for the truth. 

(....)

3:14 p.m. Eastern

JEFF ZELENY: What happened last week is the big point here, the road map through all this, what President Trump was asking for and that is not what he would talk about today. He called it a hoax. You know, he accused Chairman Schiff of a bunch of things. I was thinking back and we were talking about during the Benghazi investigation, whistleblowers frequently met with Republican members of the Committee. That is not unusual. 

JAKE TAPPER: All the time. All the time. 

ZELENY: For sure, so that is — it sounds sexy, perhaps, but that is how it works. They go to the committee's staff for guidance on how to proceed, so —

TAPPER: In fact, if I can interrupt one second. 

ZELENY: — sure. 

TAPPER: One of these whistle-blower's honors Mark Zaid — 

ZELENY: Exactly.

TAPPER: — represented the Benghazi five and worked closely with then-Chairman Darrell Issa, Republican of California, to bring those whistle-blower stories to the fore. 

ZELENY: It's a specialty. Some lawyers specialize in drunk driving cases, some specialize here in Washington, in whistle-blower cases, so that is what you do, which is why chairmanship spokesperson is not saying, you know, there's nothing wrong here. This is what they were doing. They were going there for guidance. So, the President believes he caught chairman Schiff in something here. This is pro Forma. This is how it works. So, I think, taken, you know, stock of everything, right now we know that what Dana said earlier, the biggest development so far today and the day is young, is that there could be more articles of impeachment because of obstruction of Congress. 

KRISTOL: And just tying together these two points. The reason Congress has asked and they didn't subpoena everyone at first, but asked people to testify voluntary and is now subpoenaing people, because they are following up on things outlined in the whistle-blower complaint or suggested by the transcript or by other evidence that's come to light. They're not randomly, you know, let's have this person, let’s have that person. They've been focused, I’ve got to say.

(....)

3:25 p.m. Eastern

TAPPER: Just moments ago, President Trump keeping up his attacks on Congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. This time without any evidence accusing Schiff of having helped write the whistle-blower complaint. We should point out before we run this clip that I talked to the whistle-blower's attorney, Mark Zaid. I said: Did Schiff or the committee, the House Intelligence Committee help the whistle-blower write the complaint in any way and he said on the record, absolutely not. Here's President Trump. 

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think it's a scandal that he knew before. I’d go a step further. I think he probably helped write it. [SCREEN WIPE] He knew long before and helped write it, too. It's a scam. 

TAPPER: Just make stuff up and just say it in front of the whole world. CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill. Manu, what a does Schiff or his spokesman have to say about this? 

MANU RAJU: Well, they have not officially responded to the President's comments as of yet but they have responded to reports initially reported by The New York Times that the chairman of the committee knew about the outlines of the complaint before it came out publicly, and saying, after that report came out, they issued a lengthy statement saying they in fact got no advance — they did not see in advance this complaint saying that, “at no point did the committee review or receive the complaint in advance.” Now, what they do acknowledge is that the whistle-blower had approached an aide on the committee for “guidance” about the proper channels of actually filing the complaint and according to the spokesman for Adam Schiff, he says that this is common practice that's done in Republican and Democratic-run committees alike, that oftentimes whistleblowers come forward and they need some guidance from the people who know how that process works to tell them how it works. So, they said they haven't seen — only the first time they saw the complaint is when the rest of the full House Intelligence Committee saw the complaint, which was the evening before the acting Director of National Intelligence testified in an open setting about what was in there, but, Jake, at the moment saying there's absolutely no truth to what the President is alleging. 

NB Daily Trump Impeachment CNN CNN Newsroom MSNBC MSNBC Live Bill Kristol Sam Stein Ali Velshi Jake Tapper Jeff Zeleny Manu Raju John Roberts Adam Schiff Donald Trump
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