(CNSNews.com) - "Have you heard from the whistleblower?" MSNBC contributor Sam Stein asked House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on September 17, nine days before the complaint was released to the public.
"We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower," Schiff responded at the time, never mentioning that one of his committee staffers had directly spoken to the whistleblower -- and that the staffer "shared some of what the [whistleblower] conveyed" with Schiff, according to the New York Times.
The New York Times says the staffer referred the whistleblower to a (Democrat-connected) attorney to help him file a formal complaint with the intelligence community inspector general.
Stein told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Thursday that he spoke to Schiff for "a couple of minutes last night," and Schiff "expressed regret for not having been more clear in his wording."
He (Schiff) said at the time, when he was saying that -- obviously we now know that the whistleblower had approached his staff, but there wasn't 100 percent certainty that the whistleblower who had approached his staff was the same one who was behind the actual complaint. There was a suspicion it was, but there wasn't 100 percent certainty.
He (Schiff) also was explaining that he was trying to compel the whistleblower to come testify before the committee when he was saying that, but again, he expressed regret for what he said on the initial interview with "Morning Joe" and said he should have been much more clear about it.
I will say, this puts him in some -- in some trouble. He clearly wasn't being forthright in that interview with us a couple weeks ago, and he should have been. That being said, if you're really bothered by the -- what words Schiff said a couple weeks ago and not the complaint or the fact that, for instance, Mike Pompeo claimed he wasn't on the call and it turned out he was, then you're being dishonest about this entire process.
(Speaking about being dishonest, Pompeo dodged a question about whether he was on Trump's call to the Ukraine president, but he never actually denied being on the call, as Stein claimed.)
Stein continued: "It's the substance of the complaint that's the story. The process by which the complaint became public is a story, and you can consider that in its own right, but in terms of gravity of the situation, I don't think the process actually stands up all that well to the complaint itself."
According to the New York Times report:
The C.I.A. officer (the whistleblower) approached a House Intelligence Committee aide with his concerns about Mr. Trump only after he had had a colleague first convey them to the C.I.A.’s top lawyer. Concerned about how that initial avenue for airing his allegations through the C.I.A. was unfolding, the officer then approached the House aide. In both cases, the original accusation was vague.
The House staff member, following the committee’s procedures, suggested the officer find a lawyer to advise him and meet with an inspector general, with whom he could file a whistle-blower complaint. The aide shared some of what the officer conveyed to Mr. Schiff. (Emphasis added.) The aide did not share the whistle-blower’s identity with Mr. Schiff, an official said.
The Times quoted a Schiff spokesman as saying, "Like other whistle-blowers have done before and since under Republican and Democratic-controlled committees, the whistle-blower contacted the (intelligence) committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the intelligence community.”
President Trump on Wednesday said he believes Schiff and his fellow Democrats may have helped to write the whistleblower's complaint.