White House: Adam Schiff Has Wrong OMB Number
Who called Rudy Giuliani from the White House, and who took his calls in the administration? Those question have been buzzing around the White House after phone logs were released Wednesday detailing how President Trump’s personal lawyer back-channeled diplomacy to Ukraine.
But the phone calls, a presidential spokesperson told RealClearPolitics, were not coming from inside the Office of Management and Budget: “No one from OMB has talked to Giuliani.”
The House Intelligence Committee says otherwise.
In a voluminous report, the Democrat-led committee that took the lead in impeachment alleged in graphic detail how 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 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 Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff relied on to build his case for impeachment.
“This is not about Ukraine. This is about our democracy, this is about our security,” Schiff said during a press conference after releasing the committee’s impeachment report. “Americans should care deeply about whether the president of the United States is betraying their trust in him.”
Senior administration officials reply that no one is betraying any trust. They tell RCP 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,” the lawyer texted Dana Bash of 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.”
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, something that Republican sources say isn’t accurate.
Asked for a response, a Democratic committee official replied late Thursday. “The call records obtained by the Committees identified a number that appears to be ‘associated with OMB’ based on public directories,” this official said. “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.”
This official 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.”
The same source later said: "We don’t definitively know who the call was to because the White House has ignored our subpoena."
White House and administration sources, meanwhile, insist that either the committee got its wires crossed or the committee is deliberately being misleading.
“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,” a senior White House aide told RCP. “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.
Congressional Republicans familiar with the record collection in the report are also deeply skeptical about this being a valid number registered to OMB. one member of Congress in regular contact with the president told RCP. “It is like the (202)226-9898 number from all congressional offices.”
The phone book controversy has some in the White House alternatively fuming and feeling validated.
“The fact Schiff continues to invent facts to fit his false narrative is stunning and this is no exception. That’s what this ‘inquiry’ has been since the beginning,” a senior administration aid told RCP. “The president was right to refuse to cooperate. Democrats are off the rails.”
Trump himself does not seem to be frustrated. He doesn’t think the alleged phone conversations between his lawyer and his budget staffers were all that significant. After meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in London during a NATO summit Wednesday, the president dismissed questions about the logged conversations.
“I really don't know -- you'd have to ask him,” Trump told reporters when asked what reason his personal lawyer would have to talk with his budget chiefs. “Sounds like something that’s not so complicated, frankly, but you’d have to ask him. No big deal.”