On Saturday, the office of Vice President Mike Pence responded to Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) request to declassify material referenced in testimony given by a Pence aide before the House Intelligence Committee.
Suffice it to say that Pence will not be giving in to Schiff’s declassification request.
The vice president responded to Schiff’s request through spokeswoman Katie Waldman, who spoke with USA Today.
“Because Adam Schiff continues to operate in an underhanded manner, the Office of the Vice President does not even know what he wants declassified,” Waldman said. “It’s simply further proof that this shoddy committee is pursuing a sham investigation.”
This latest ordeal all revolves around Jennifer Williams, a career foreign service officer who is a member of Pence’s staff. Williams was one of the witnesses who has testified both publicly and privately before Schiff’s committee during the impeachment inquiry.
The aide is on the record as saying that the July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “unusual, and more of a political nature.” But here, Schiff has turned his attention to a phone call that Pence himself had with Zelensky on Sept. 18.
According to Schiff, Williams has already spoken about this phone call in her testimony, but that was before she learned from Pence’s office that the call was classified. Accordingly, Schiff sent a letter to Pence on Friday requesting that he declassify the call so that what Williams’ has had to say about it can be passed on to the impeachment investigators.
“Today, the House Intelligence Committee sent the following letter to Vice President Mike Pence requesting that the Office of the Vice President, or another relevant classification authority, declassify supplemental testimony provided by Jennifer Williams to the Committee, as noted in our report,” an aide told The Hill. “While Ms. Williams already testified generally to the phone call in question, declassification of this supplemental testimony will allow the Congress to see further corroborative evidence as it considers articles of impeachment, and provide the public further understanding of the events in question.”
Not going to happen
One thing on which Schiff really focused in his letter to Pence is the vice president’s own declaration last month that he would have “no objection at all” to declassifying the phone call.
“Your willingness to release the transcript of your calls with President Zelensky necessarily means that you do not believe there is anything contained therein that would cause any harm to U.S. national security if publicly disclosed,” Schiff wrote.
It is likely that Pence indeed has no problem declassifying the call. But considering the way that Schiff has gone about the impeachment inquiry, there is simply no way that Pence is just going to provide the information automatically without questioning the California Democrat’s underlying motive.
We now will have to wait and see how Schiff responds to the news that he will not be getting what he wants.