By Melissa Leon, Brooke Singman | Fox News
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., rejected a request by Republicans to have the Ukraine phone call whistleblower testify at next week’s public impeachment inquiry hearings, saying that their testimony was “redundant and unnecessary.”
The GOP witness list, obtained by Fox News earlier Saturday, included Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president Joe Biden, and the anonymous intelligence community whistleblower whose complaint about a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky triggered the impeachment inquiry.
“The committee … will not facilitate efforts by President Trump and his allies in Congress to threaten, intimidate and retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously raised the initial alarm,” Schiff said in a letter to Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif. ” … The whistleblower has a right under laws championed by this committee to remain anonymous and to be protected from harm.”
“The impeachment inquiry, moreover, 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 whistleblower’s complaint … ” Schiff concluded his letter. “In light of the president’s threats, the individual’s appearance before us would only place their personal safety at grave risk.”
Earlier in his letter, Schiff had warned Nunes that the impeachment inquiry and the House Intelligence Committee “will not serve as vehicles” for what he called “sham investigations into the Bidens or debunked conspiracies about 2016 U.S. election interference that President Trump pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit.”
The impeachment inquiry began when a whistleblower reported that Trump had pushed Zelensky to launch an investigation into the Biden family’s dealings in Ukraine— specifically, why former Vice President 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 held a lucrative role on the board, bringing in a reported $50,000 per month.
Republicans noted that testimony from former State Department official George Kent raised concerns about “the appearance of a conflict of interest stemming from Mr. Biden’s position on Burisma’s board,” and added that former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich was prepared by the Obama State Department to address questions about Mr. Biden’s position on Burisma during her Senate confirmation process.
Republicans also planned to call the younger Biden’s former long-time business partner, Devon Archer, who also sat on the board of Burisma. Republicans claim Archer can help the public to understand “the nature and extent of Ukraine’s pervasive corruption information that bears directly on President Trump’s longstanding and deeply-held skepticism of the country.”
Schiff himself said in September the whistleblower would appear before Congress “very soon,” but in recent weeks has suggested that testimony is unnecessary.
“Because President Trump should be afforded an opportunity to confront his accusers, the anonymous whistleblower should testify,” Nunes wrote in his letter to Schiff earlier Saturday. “Moreover, given the multiple discrepancies between the whistleblower’s complaint and the closed-door testimony of the witnesses, it is imperative that the American people hear definitively how the whistleblower developed his or her information, and who else the whistleblower may have fed the information he or she gathered and how that treatment of classified information may have led to the false narrative being perpetrated by the Democrats during this process.”
Republicans are also requesting that the “more than half a dozen sources” the whistleblower cited in their complaint to the Intelligence Community Inspector General, whose identities also remain anonymous, attend for a public deposition.
The list of witnesses also includes Nellie Ohr, a researcher at opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the now-infamous anti-Trump dossier; Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American consultant for the Democratic National Committee who allegedly met with officials at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C. to discuss incriminating information about Trump campaign officials; ex-National Security Council official Tim Morrison; former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker; and high-ranking State Department official David Hale.
Earlier Saturday, the president again called the impeachment inquiry a “witch hunt” and said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Schiff and Biden should be added to the list of witnesses who would be called to testify.
“The witch hunt continues, lot of witch hunt continues,” he told reporters. “The Republicans have never been so united and I think the people of our country have never been so united.”
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.
THE UKRAINE SCANDAL SPREADS
BY JOHN HINDERAKER | POWERLINE
I take it as a given that Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma paid the Biden family a $3 million bribe.
That follows from the facts that:
1) Hunter Biden doesn’t speak Ukrainian or have any experience in Ukrainian business,
2) Hunter Biden has no experience in the natural gas industry,
3) Burisma nevertheless paid Biden more than $83,000 a month (!) for three years to serve on its board of directors, a role that usually is only nominally compensated, and
4) Joe Biden at the time was responsible for Ukraine policy in the Obama administration. But there may be even more to the scandal than that.
John Solomon has been an indispensable source here, in part because of his own Freedom of Information Act requests. His most recent revelations concern Burisma’s relationship with the U.S. Agency for International Development, an arm of the State Department:
A State Department official who served in the U.S. embassy in Kiev told Congress that the Obama administration tried in 2016 to partner with the Ukrainian gas firm that employed Hunter Biden but the project was blocked over corruption concerns.
George Kent, the former charge d’affair at the Kiev embassy, said in testimony released Thursday that the State Department’s main foreign aid agency, known as USAID, planned to co-sponsor a clean energy project with Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian gas firm that employed Hunter Biden as a board member.
At the time of the proposed project, Burisma was under investigation in Ukraine for alleged corruption. …
Kent testified he personally intervened in mid-2016 to stop USAID’s joint project with Burisma because American officials believed the corruption allegations against the gas firm raised concern.
The time line is important here. Hunter Biden started getting money from Burisma in 2014. In February 2016, Burisma’s top-shelf international lobbying firm used Hunter’s name to fast-track an appointment with a senior State Department official to deny reports of corruption involving Burisma:
A few months later, by mid-2016, the Obama administration had in place a plan for USAID to partner with Burisma, until Kent intervened to block it.
Kent’s stoppage of the USAID project adds to a growing body of evidence that Burisma and its corruption issues were causing heartburn inside the State Department during the end of Joe Biden’s tenure as Vice President.
Another State official has reportedly testified he tried to warn Biden’s office that the Burisma matter posed a conflict of interest but was turned away by the vice president’s aides.
Kent’s newly released testimony also confirmed several other elements of my earlier reporting about Ukraine, including that the U.S. embassy exerted pressure on Ukrainian prosecutors not to pursue certain investigations.
For instance, Kent acknowledged signing an April 2016 letter that asked the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office to stand down an investigation of several nonprofits that had received U.S. aid, including the AntiCorruption Action Centre of Ukraine, or AnTac.
Kent also confirmed my reporting that AnTac was jointly funded by the State Department and one of liberal megadonor George Soros’ foundations.
So Obama administration corruption relating to Ukraine may well have extended beyond Burisma’s $3 million bribe to the Biden family.
President Trump was entirely correct in wanting this Obama/Biden administration corruption to be investigated, but the Democratic Party press seems to have succeeded, bizarrely, in painting Trump as the villain of the story.
Who says the “mainstream” press no longer has any power?
The Biden family’s self-enrichment is a great example of the swamp against which Donald Trump ran for office, and America’s reporters and editors, with few exceptions, are swamp members in good standing.