House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA)’s aides first learned in February of allegations that a Russian military intelligence unit offered bounties for American troops in Afghanistan, according to a report.
Top Intelligence Committee staff for Schiff were briefed during a congressional trip to Afghanistan on intelligence that Russia offered the Taliban bounties in Afghanistan, but Schiff took no action in response to the briefing, sources told The Federalist.
Schiff has so far refused to acknowledge that his staff was aware of the allegations. “I can’t comment on the specifics,” he said when asked by a reporter whether he indeed knew of the intelligence before the New York Times story. He has also acknowledged that Trump was never briefed on the intelligence.
But none of this has stopped him from complaining that Trump took no action against Russia.
The Federalist’s Sean Davis and Mollie Hemingway wrote:
Schiff’s recent complaints that Trump took no action against Russia in response to rumors of Russian bounties are curious given that Schiff himself took no action after his top staff were briefed by intelligence officials. As chairman of the intelligence committee, Schiff had the authority to immediately brief the full committee and convene hearings on the matter. Schiff, however, did nothing. He did not brief his committee on the matter, nor did he brief the gang of 8, which consists of top congressional leadership in both chambers.
However, now Schiff is demanding that the Trump administration brief all of Congress about the unverified allegations, although he himself did not ask for a briefing of the Intelligence Committee following the February briefing of his own staff, as Davis and Hemingway pointed out.
Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Schiff on the Intelligence Committee, did not respond to a request for comment from The Federalist about Schiff’s inaction on the bounty allegations and declined to say why Schiff withheld the information from Congress for months.
The Federalist also reported that Boland also did not explain why travel records regarding the congressional staff delegation trip to Afghanistan had not yet been disclosed in the Congressional Record as required by law.
It is not the first time Schiff withheld information from other members of Congress that he would later use to criticize the Trump administration for.
Last year, a “whistleblower” from the Intelligence Committee, reportedly Eric Ciaramella, went to members of Schiff’s staff to offer secondhand information regarding one of Trump’s phone calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Schiff’s staff reportedly instructed the whistleblower to file a complaint with the intelligence community inspector general. Schiff then exposed the complaint, without disclosing his staff’s own role.
Schiff has claimed he never knew the identity of the whistleblower, yet he trie to prevent anyone testifying on the complaint from revealing his name.