House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks at a press briefing on the impeachment proceedings into President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill on October 2. Public hearings begin Wednesday. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 10 (UPI) -- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff described a request by the Republicans for public testimony this week by the whistle-blower who sparked an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump as "redundant and unnecessary."
On Saturday, House intelligence committee ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., sent a list of witnesses they would like to interview to Schiff, including Hunter Biden, the son of former vice President Joe Biden. The letter was five pages.
Schiff, a Democrat from California, responded to the letter later Saturday with his own two-page letter.
He wrote the impeachment inquiry "has gathered an ever-growing body of evidence -- from witnesses and documents, including the president's own words in his July 25 call record -- that not only confirms, but far exceeds, the initial information in the whistle-blower's complaint. The whistle-blower's testimony is therefore redundant and unnecessary. In light of the president's threats, the individual's appearance before us would only place their personal safety at grave risk."
In September, Schiff said the whistle-blower would appear before Congress "very soon," but later has said the testimony is unnecessary.
In the phone call Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to conduct an investigation of the Bidens. Without confirmation, Joe Biden pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire a top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings, where Hunter served on the board, bringing in a reported $50,000 per month.
The whistle-blower in a complaint alleges that Trump abused his official powers "to solicit interference" from Ukraine in the 2020 election. That led to the impeachment inquiry.
Nunes has described it as a "sham impeachment process" and the Republicans' desired witnesses will "provide transparency to your otherwise opaque and unfair process."
In the letter, Schiff said "it is important to underscore that the impeachment inquiry, and the Committee, will not serve as vehicles for any member to carry out the same sham into the Bidens or 2016 U.S. election interference that President Trump pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit. The Committee also will not facilitate the president's effort to threaten, intimidate, and retaliate against the whistle-blower who courageously raised the initial alarm."
Also Saturday, the whistle-blower's attorney Andrew Bakaj reiterated that his client is only willing to answer questions in writing, a suggestion Republicans reject.
"My client's complaint has been largely corroborated. Nonetheless, I have offered to have my client respond in writing, under oath, and under penalty of perjury to Republican questions," Bakaj said in a statement to CNN.
Schiff said the committee is "carefully evaluating the witness list you provided, along with the written justifications you included." He added the consideration will be given "within the scope of the impeachment inquiry."
Nunes, who served as chairman of the committee until the Democrats regained control of the House in the 2018 midterm, election, had written: "The minority members must identify all potential witnesses we wish to call before knowing the number, topics or scope of hearings you intend to convene. The Democrats' impeachment process against President Trump is a drastic departure from bipartisan precedent for presidential impeachment proceedings."
The GOP's witness list also named another former Burisma board member, Devon Archer; former Democratic National Committee staffer Alexandra Chalupa; Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale; former National Security Council official Tim Morrison; former contractor for Fusion GPS Nellie Ohr; former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker; and the individuals from which the whistle-blower obtained information about the phone call.
Trump reacted to Schiff's decision Sunday.
"Corrupt politician Adam Schiff wants people from the White House to testify in his and Pelosi's disgraceful Witch Hunt, yet he will not allow a White House lawyer, nor will he allow ANY of our requested witnesses," Trump tweeted. "This is a first in due process and Congressional history
On Saturday, Trump suggested other names should be added to the list for the inquiry, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
"I recommend that Nervous Nancy Pelosi (who backed up Schiff's lie), Shifty Adam Schiff, Sleepy Joe Biden, the Whistleblower (who miraculously disappeared after I released the transcript of the call), the 2nd Whistleblower (who also disappeared), & the I.G., be part of the list!" Trump tweeted.
The whistle-blower complaint letter was submitted to Intelligence Inspector General Michael Atkinson.
Trump has been critical of Schiff for his "parody" reading of Trump's July phone call during a hearing in September. The White House earlier released its transcript version of the call.
Three committees have jointly conducted a number of closed-door hearings and the Democrats have released transcripts from those private depositions. Public hearings begin Wednesday.
The Democrats have scheduled U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor and State Department official George Kent for Wednesday, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on Friday. They previously have testified behind closed doors.