The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” column on Friday gave House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) four Pinocchios for claiming last month that his panel had “not spoken directly with the whistleblower” who raised concerns about President Trump‘s dealings with Ukraine.
The New York Times first reported on Wednesday that the whistleblower had consulted with Schiff’s committee before filing the complaint.
Schiff said in a Sept. 17 interview with the Daily Beast’s Sam Stein on MSNBC that “we have not spoken directly with the whistleblower.”
“Have you heard from the whistleblower? Do you want to hear from the whistleblower? What protections could you provide to the whistleblower?” Stein, an MSNBC contributor, asked on “Morning Joe.”
“We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to,” Schiff responded. “But I am sure the whistleblower has concerns that he has not been advised, as the law requires, by the inspector general or the director of national Intelligence just how he is supposed to communicate with Congress, and so the risk to the whistleblower is retaliation.”
The Post said Schiff’s response was “flat-out false.”
“Schiff on ‘Morning Joe’ clearly made a statement that was false,” the fact-checker said. “He now says he’s was answering the wrong question, but if that was the case, he should have quickly corrected the record. He compounded his falsehood by telling reporters a few days later that if not for the [inspector general’s] office, the committee would not have known about the complaint. That again suggested there had been no prior communication.”
“The explanation that Schiff was not sure it was the same whistleblower especially strains credulity,” the fact-checker added. “Schiff earns Four Pinocchios.”
The Post’s fact-checker applies Pinocchios ranging from one to four, with four being reserved for what the column considers the most egregious statements.
A House Intelligence Committee spokesperson told the Post that Schiff’s answer to Stein “should have been more carefully phrased.”
“Regarding Chairman Schiff’s comments on ‘Morning Joe,’ in the context, he intended to answer the question of whether the Committee had heard testimony from the whistleblower, which they had not,” the spokesperson said. “As he said in his answer, the whistleblower was then awaiting instructions from the Acting [Director of National Intelligence] as to how the whistleblower could contact the Committee. Nonetheless he acknowledges that his statement should have been more carefully phrased to make that distinction clear.”