The intelligence community whistleblower who alleged misconduct at the White House over President Trump’s call to the Ukrainian president did not disclose contact with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s staff to the intelligence committee inspector general (ICIG), sources told Fox News Friday.
The sources said ICIG Michael Atkinson told lawmakers in a closed session that the whistleblower did not disclose the contact with the California Democrat's committee and that Atkinson didn’t investigate that contact as he had no knowledge of it.
On Friday, sources also told Fox News that Atkinson also revealed that the whistleblower volunteered he or she was a registered Democrat and that they had a prior working relationship with a prominent Democratic politician.
In a statement after the hearing with the inspector general, Schiff ripped into Republicans, saying they have “continued the president’s strategy of deflection by making the absurd claim that because a whistleblower contacted the committee seeking guidance, the committee cannot conduct an investigation into the complaint.”
“If that were true, no whistleblower could contact Congress, and no committee could conduct an investigation,” Schiff said.
Schiff’s office acknowledged Wednesday that the whistleblower had reached out to them before filing a complaint in mid-August, giving Democrats advance warning of the accusations that would lead them to launch an impeachment inquiry days later.
The source said Atkinson told lawmakers he did not know how a Schiff tweet in August and other statements about Ukraine appeared to reflect the substance of the whistleblower complaint, which was not declassified and shared with Congress until the end of September.
Schiff previously said that “we have not spoken directly to the whistleblower,” although his office later narrowed the claim, saying that Schiff himself "does not know the identity of the whistleblower, and has not met with or spoken with the whistleblower or their counsel" for any reason.
An aide to Schiff insisted that when the congressman mentioned "we" had not spoken to the whistleblower, he was referring to members of the full House intelligence committee, rather than staff. His office also denied that the intelligence committee had reviewed or received the complaint in advance.
“Like other whistleblowers have done before and since under Republican and Democratic-controlled Committees, the whistleblower contacted the Committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the Intelligence Community," Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Schiff and the House Intelligence Committee, told Fox News.
"This is a regular occurrence, given the Committee’s unique oversight role and responsibilities. Consistent with the Committee’s longstanding procedures, Committee staff appropriately advised the whistleblower to contact an Inspector General and to seek legal counsel," Boland said.
The revelation led Trump to accuse Schiff of helping to write the whistleblower complaint, which alleged misconduct by the president when he spoke to Ukrainian premier Volodymyr Zelensky in July.
"It shows that Schiff is a fraud. ... I think it's a scandal that he knew before," Trump said Wednesday. "I'd go a step further. I'd say he probably helped write it. ... That's a big story. He knew long before, and he helped write it too. It's a scam."
Trump has zeroed in on Schiff, who he has branded “shifty Schiff,” for particular criticism, specifically over the chairman's recital of an inaccurate and exaggerated version of Trump’s call at a hearing last week. Schiff has said that the reading was merely a “parody” of the call, but Trump has demanded he resign over the move.
Fox News reached out to Schiff's office, as well as the whistleblower's legal team, but there was no immediate response to questions about the whistleblower's disclosures to the ICIG.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Gregg Re contributed to this report.