Mon | Oct 14, 2019

Second Trump whistle-blower spoke to inspector general

Published:Monday | October 7, 2019 | 12:21 AM

WASHINGTON (AP):

A second whistle-blower has spoken to the intelligence community’s internal watchdog and has information that backs the original whistle-blower’s complaint about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, according to the lawyer for the two.

Attorney Mark Zaid told The Associated Press in a text message Sunday that the second whistle-blower, who also works in intelligence, hasn’t filed a complaint with the inspector general but does have “first-hand knowledge that supported” the original whistle-blower.

The original whistle-blower, a CIA officer, filed a formal complaint with the inspector general on August 12 that triggered the impeachment inquiry being led by House Democrats. The complaint alleged Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country” in the 2020 election.

The disclosure of a second whistle-blower threatens to undermine arguments made by Trump and his allies against the first whistle-blower: that the complaint was improperly filed because it was based on second-hand or thirdhand information.

Trump and his supporters have rejected the accusations he did anything improper. But the White House has struggled to come up with a unified response. No administration officials appeared on the Sunday news shows, but several congressional Republicans came to the president’s defence during television interviews.

Rep Jim Jordan of Ohio and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, two of Trump’s most vocal backers, sharply criticised the way House Democrats are handling the impeachment inquiry.

UKRAINE CALL

Graham said there was nothing wrong with Trump’s July phone call during which the president pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice-President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The conversation has raised questions about whether Trump was using near $400 million in critical American military aid to Ukraine as leverage to get help on the Biden issue.

Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company, at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Ukraine. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden. Joe Biden is a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

“I think this is a nightmare for the Biden campaign,” Graham said. Biden wrote in The Washington Post that he had a message for Trump and “those who facilitate his abuses of power. ... Please know that I’m not going anywhere. You won’t destroy me, and you won’t destroy my family.”