Nov 17, 2019

Rep. Steve Scalise calls White House officials "Schiff's witnesses"

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said on "Fox News Sunday" that the Trump administration officials who have expressed concerns about the president's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff's witnesses and that there are other officials who have "countering views."

Why it matters: Scalise's argument echoes one deployed by President Trump himself, who has called several of the witnesses who have testified in the impeachment inquiry "Never Trumpers."

  • However, top Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor was personally appointed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and others like Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman served on the White House National Security Council.
  • Jennifer Williams, a top national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence, also testified that Trump's phone call with Zelensky was "unusual and inappropriate."

The big picture: Scalise is correct that some of the witnesses that Republicans want to testify in the inquiry, such as the whistleblower and Hunter Biden, have been rebuffed by Schiff. Former NSC official Tim Morrison, however, was on the Republicans' list of witnesses and is expected to testify in public next week.

The exchange:

CHRIS WALLACE: First of all, a dozen people listened in on the phone call and a number of them were immediately upset because what the president said about Burisma —
SCALISE: Those were Schiff's witnesses. 
WALLACE: No, sir, they are career foreign service officers, and these are people who worked in the Trump administration. 
SCALISE: They are Schiff's witnesses. 
WALLACE: Wait a minute, sir, you had a woman yesterday who was on Vice President Pence's staff. She said it was inappropriate. Tim Morrison, who was on the NSC staff, who said that he — alarm bells immediately went off for him. Alexander Vindman immediately went to see — these are all people — you say they are Schiff's witnesses, they all were working in the Trump administration.
SCALISE: They were not all Trump administration folks. 
WALLACE: Are you saying that the person working — Alexander Vindman wasn't part of the National Security Council?
SCALISE: The inspector general said that the whistleblower had political motivations.
WALLACE: We are not talking about the whistleblower. 

Go deeper: Trump attacks Marie Yovanovitch as she testifies at impeachment hearing

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