Conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch is urging the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., regarding his communications with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson and President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen.
“Rep. Schiff has an ethics problem. His and his staff’s irregular communications with anti-Trump witnesses reflect poorly on the credibility of the House and its committees’ investigations,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement Monday. “It has long been apparent that Rep. Schiff can’t be trusted to lead the Intelligence Committee, so we hope that Democrats on the Ethics Committee stop protecting Mr. Schiff and take action.”
The Hill’s John Solomon reported last month that Schiff met with Simpson in Aspen, Colo., in July 2018 at the Aspen Security Forum, and months later Simpson appeared before the House Intelligence Committee in October 2018 when Schiff was ranking member of the panel.
Fusion GPS, which was hired to conduct opposition research by a lawyer who represented the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, has become entangled in congressional and federal investigations examining Russian interference in the 2016 election. The firm was responsible for hiring former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who authored the so-called Trump dossier which contained scandalous claims about Trump’s ties to Russia and was used by the FBI to obtain a warrant to spy on onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Spokespersons for both Schiff and Simpson said their encounter in Aspen was brief, and Schiff’s office said no meeting had been scheduled ahead of time.
“The chairman did not have any pre-planned meeting with Glenn Simpson, and any conversation with him at the Aspen conference would have been brief and social in nature,” Schiff’s office told The Hill.
Judicial Watch, which filed the official complaint against Schiff with the Office of Congressional Ethics Monday, also cited a Fox News media report claiming that Schiff visited New York at least four times to coordinate with Cohen before Cohen’s testimony in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee in February. Cohen, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance crimes in August, admitted before the panel last month that he and Schiff had discussed “topics that were going to be raised at the upcoming hearing.”
Schiff denies he himself was present when members of his team traveled to New York four times to meet with Cohen for a total of 10 hours about a variety of topics right before his public appearance before the oversight panel.
“Again, Rep. Schiff’s conduct creates the appearance of unethical collusion and synchronization of efforts that calls into question whether Cohen’s testimony was a legitimate congressional hearing or well-rehearsed political theatre,” Judicial Watch’s complaint read. “We call upon the OCE to investigate Rep. Schiff and his previously undisclosed, inappropriate contact with key witnesses in the congressional investigation over which that Member holds significant sway.“