New Phone Controversy, Who Dis?
For the last two days, the media have seized on Adam Schiff’s totalitarian phone record grab to paint a picture of the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in frequent contact with the Office of Management and Budget to ensure that his dastardly quid pro quo scheme was going according to plan. Now, new information is surfacing that calls into question whether those calls were even to OMB, much less about withholding military aid until Ukraine targets the president’s political foes.
Administration sources have reached out to several media outlets, most notably RealClearPolitics, to assert that the calls were not coming from inside the OMB, stating plainly: “No one from OMB has talked to Giuliani.”
As you may have guessed, the Schiff-led House Intelligence Committee asserts otherwise.
In their nearly 400-page report, the HPSCI alleges that Giuliani worked with the administration to freeze $391 million in foreign aid to Ukraine to pressure the government of that country into publicly committing to opening an investigation into Joe Biden’s family. The “public” part of that equation is what’s important, as it would imply a political motive as opposed to a purely anti-corruption crusade.
The report details phone calls and texts dating from last spring and summer, including a nearly 13-minute call on April 24 from an “OMB Phone Number.” It is part of the evidence that Schiff relied on to build his case for impeachment.
The administration, however, insists that Schiff must have the wrong number. For his part, Giuliani has said publicly that he never placed a call to OMB, the agency responsible for how the White House spends money appropriated by Congress.
“I don’t remember calling OMB and not about military aid never knew anything about it,” Giuliani texted Dana Bash of Fake News CNN after publicly tweeting that call logs were inconclusive. “The mere fact I had numerous calls with the White House does not establish any specific topic,” he wrote. “Remember, I’m the president’s attorney.”
The main point of contention seems to lie in the number’s prefix. Apparently Schiff and his staff believe the 395 prefix that showed up on the phone records subpoenaed by House Democrats from AT&T and Verizon belongs only to phones in the OMB offices. The White House and other Republican sources say that simply isn’t accurate.
In response, a Dim committee official gave a legalistic answer which provided room for a possible screw-up: “The call records obtained by the Committees identified a number that appears to be ‘associated with OMB’ based on public directories. As we have made clear since the report was released, we are continuing to investigate these call records as part of our ongoing work, including to assess whether that number, associated with OMB landlines, may also indicate calls received from elsewhere within the White House.”
For those of you keeping score at home, Dims suddenly can’t give 100% confirmation that the number belonged to OMB, but they are “continuing to investigate.” That didn’t, however, stop them from releasing a report asserting the OMB number as fact, which their partners in the press were all too happy to run to broadcast.
The committee added: “The White House does not contest that these calls with Giuliani originated within the White House, thereby confirming that Giuliani was in fact in frequent contact with individuals within the White House at key points during the scheme. For his part, Mr. Giuliani has now confirmed speaking to Mick Mulvaney, who continues to serve as both the head of OMB and acting chief of staff in the White House.”
Yes, the president’s lawyer has had contact with the White House and the Chief of Staff in particular. On what planet this constitutes damning evidence, I’m not sure. But it’s something, I guess. For the sake of fairness, it should be noted that the committee can’t retrieve further information because the White House refuses to cooperate with their subpoenas.
In the meantime, the White House is making clear that the Dims are up to their old deceptive shenanigans, as always:
“This is yet another attempt to use deceit and media manipulation to attempt to undo the results of the last election and interfere in the next one. The number House Democrats are claiming is an OMB number is nothing more than a masking number that appears when White House staff dial out from the complex,” the White House aide added.
Ahhhhh now THAT makes sense. See, if you’ve got a generic masking number that applies to the entire White House, Dims can easily just claim it to be connected to whichever part of the White House is most convenient to them! Brilliant!
But not really. This type of lie is easily falsifiable and thus doomed to fail in the end.
Congressional Republicans are also deeply skeptical about this being a valid number registered to OMB. According to RealClearPolitics, one member of Congress in regular contact explained, “It is like the (202) 226-9898 number from all congressional offices.”
So, in summation, we can’t say for sure whether the alleged OMB number in the Schiff report actually belongs to OMB, but we have good reason to doubt it. The number one reason, of course, is that the claim originated from Adam Schiff. The rest is just bonus information, frankly.
On to the next deception.
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