U.S. President Donald Trump attends a news conference in the White House on Friday. Photo: REUTERS
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Political battle escalates over whistleblower complaint about Trump

29 Comments
By Jonathan Landay, Aram Roston and David Morgan

A political battle over a classified whistleblower complaint about U.S. President Donald Trump escalated on Friday, with Democrats warning of a national security threat and Republicans turning it into an attack on Joe Biden, one of Trump's chief political rivals.

Trump dismissed the complaint from a whistleblower within the intelligence community - reported by several U.S. news organizations to involve the Republican president's communications with a foreign leader - as a partisan hit against him.

The Sept. 12 complaint centered on Ukraine, the Washington Post reported.

Reuters has not confirmed details of the whistleblower's complaint. But a source familiar with the matter said it alleged"multiple acts" by Trump, not just a phone call with a foreign leader. The source requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Trump had spoken with Ukraine's recently elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, less than three weeks before the complaint was filed. Trump is due to meet Zelenskiy during a United Nations gathering in New York.

The July 25 call between the leaders is under investigation by three Democratic-led House committees, who want to know if Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, tried to pressure the Ukrainian government into aiding Trump's re-election campaign.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Trump urged Zelenskiy about eight times during the call to work with Giuliani to investigate Biden's son.

Giuliani said on CNN on Thursday he had asked the Ukrainian government to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Biden, who is a frontrunner in the field of Democrats seeking to challenge Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

Giuliani alleged that as vice president, Biden sought the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating his son's business dealings. Biden and his son have denied the charge.

"Not one single credible outlet has given any credibility to his (Trump's) assertion - not one single one. And so I have no comment except for the president to start to be president," Biden told reporters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The former prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, had been criticized by the U.S. government and the European Union for larger issues, including blocking reforms to Ukraine’s legal system. Ukraine's parliament approved his dismissal in March 2016.

On Friday, Giuliani was seen by Reuters reporters at the Trump International Hotel, a few blocks away from the White House, sitting next to Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian businessman with whom he has recently been working. Giuliani declined comment.

In a Sept. 9 letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone requesting documents, the chairmen of the House foreign affairs, intelligence and oversight committees said the Ukrainian government's readout of Trump's call appeared to show that he encouraged Zelenskiy to pursue the Biden investigation.

The chairmen noted the State Department had acknowledged that Kurt Volker, the U.S. special representative to Ukraine, subsequently arranged for Giuliani to meet an aide to Zelenskiy in Spain.

The letter also cited news media reports that Trump threatened to withhold more than $250 million in security assistance approved by Congress for Kiev to aid its fight against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Trump did not mention a provision of foreign aid to Ukraine on the July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing an unnamed source.

Trump said he did not know the identity of the whistleblower or the precise accusations but that all of his conversations with foreign leaders had been appropriate.

"It doesn't matter what I discussed but I will say this: somebody ought to look into Joe Biden's statement because it was disgraceful, where he talked about millions of dollars that he is not giving to a certain country unless a certain prosecutor is taken off the case. Somebody ought to look into that," Trump said.

STONEWALLING

The dispute is the latest chapter of a power struggle in which the Trump administration has been resisting efforts by Democratic lawmakers investigating the president's business dealings and actions to obtain documents, records and testimony from White House and senior agency officials.

An intelligence community watchdog determined that the whistleblower complaint was credible, related to an urgent matter, and should be shared with congressional leaders through a process laid out by U.S. law.

That determination was overridden by acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire after consulting with the Justice Department.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the administration was violating federal law by "stonewalling" a congressional inquiry.

"Reports of a reliable whistleblower complaint regarding the president's communications with a foreign leader raise grave, urgent concerns for our national security," Pelosi said. "If the president has done what has been alleged, then he is stepping into a dangerous minefield with serious repercussions for his administration and our democracy."

The Democratic chairmen of the House intelligence, oversight, judiciary and foreign affairs committees criticized Trump for attacking the whistleblower as partisan, saying it was a "brazen effort to intimidate" the person and could chill future complaints.

A senior Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, which is considering whether to impeach Trump, said the incident could feed into the panel's deliberations.

"This is deadly serious," Representative David Cicilline said on Twitter. "If the President does not allow the whistleblower complaint against him to be turned over to Congress, we will add it to the Articles of Impeachment."

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy echoed Giuliani’s allegations about Biden and said the whistleblower could have brought his or her complaint directly to Congress, telling reporters, "I want to know who the whistleblower is, what they are saying. But they could have come to Congress and given it to us."

In response, Eric Swalwell, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted "false." Swalwell said a whistleblower would be charged with a crime if they shared classified information with lawmakers without authorization.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

29 Comments

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Why is Donny so frightened of oversight? He's constantly inflicting wounds upon himself by trying to degrade our system of separation of powers. What an absolute embicile.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

"Everything I did was perfect and appropriate and no you can't investigate and no you can't see a transcript and yes our notes are different from the Ukraine and yes we are trying to block Congress from seeing the information."

Signed,

Proven Scammer and Known Liar Donald Trump

Yep, I'm sold.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Didn’t know that it was ok for sworn US intelligence officers to anonymously release classified secrets to the media.

-16 ( +1 / -17 )

Maybe the Dems have a point and a Ukraine Collusion investigation is in order.

-13 ( +1 / -14 )

Very, very dodgy business. Could this be the straw that broke the camel's back?

Would be happy to see both Trump and Biden out of the race.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

from what I have read it seems Biden’s son should be investigated. Liberals starting new investigations weekly, what’s one more? Scared of “oversight”?

Or is that only what liberals do to Trump and you are exempt? Seems so as you freak out every time something a Dem did is called out for discussion.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

Liberals starting new investigations weekly

How many times did you guys investigate Hillary? How many investigations into the Russian investigations do you guys want? Why do you guys have so much trouble recognizing that what was good for you is good for us?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Let's see... the Vice President withheld foreign aid on the condition that the Ukrainians stop the investigations into his son's criminal dealings in that country. Crickets, because that occurred during the famously "scandal free" Obama reign.

A democratically elected president suggests the Ukraine should re-open the case. An anonymous, taxpayer funded spy who works for a massively taxpayer funded agency that routinely spies on its own citizens and overthrows elections around the world files an anonymous "whistleblower" report to another spy in the same secret police agency. Together, and accountable to nobody, they will come up with a taxpayer-funded report that they hope will damage the elected leader enough that they can put one of their stooges back in the White House.

And like caged monkeys, the usual chorus of "impeach, impeach!"

They will write books trying to explain this behavior in the future. They will have to make it into a video so graduates of the US education system can understand it.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

You know you're screwed with Trump fan bingo when your center square reads, "Donald Trump has too much integrity to ever abuse his position for personal gain." It's never been hit before.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

from what I have read it seems Biden’s son should be investigated. Liberals starting new investigations weekly, what’s one more? Scared of “oversight”? 

Or is that only what liberals do to Trump and you are exempt? Seems so as you freak out every time something a Dem did is called out for discussion.

Pretty much, if liberals can dig up dirt on any political rival and weaponize our law agencies in that process for whatever nefarious means, it’s perfectly legit, if the President does it, he should be impeached? I can’t stop laughing! Oh, the hypocrisy. Ok, so I’ll give this latest attempt about 2 weeks and we’ll all be on our normal daily routine schedule. Another feeble attempt will sorrily fail the Democrats again.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

Trump said he can't be investigated fro crimes while he's president. Does that mean he knows he committed them?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Nixon 3.0....

It's never the crime, it's the cover-up....

If you saw Giuliani meltdown on air yesterday and contradict himself in one interview you know Trump and his minions are freaking out because they know Donnie is in deep doo-doo...

Quid pro quo - you investigate Biden's son and we'll increase our military sales to you.

Trump sells out our democracy to any foreign government that can further his criminal empire...

Will Moscow Mitch and Leningrad Lindsey still sit on their hands and say nothing?

You bet your borscht they will....

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Trump said he can't be investigated fro crimes while he's president. Does that mean he knows he committed them?

No, it more or less means for the Democrats it’s back to the drawing board again, this is what the 12th-15th time? Ahhh...who’s counting right?

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

Also Donny offered money to a foreign government to investigate an American citizen using foreign laws.

A small unimportant detail is that this American citizen is the son of Donny ‘s political opponent.

I am am sure that was just a coincidence, Donny ‘s interest was in ensuring that American Citizens don’t use their political connections to further their business interests.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If the orangutan has Nothing to hide, why hide everything? Coward.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Man, watching Giuliani sell out what miniscule dignity he had left was HILARIOUS! I have never seen a meltdown and such a messy interview like that. "I didn't -- but of COURSE I did... no, I didn't say that.... but I did, and I'm proud of it!"

Classic. What an absolute moron. I look forward to the day Trump finally throws him Under the bus and he cries about how 'unfair' it all is and tries to milk his time during 9/11 to try and get some esteem back. Haha. What a complete and total loser.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Man, watching Giuliani sell out what miniscule dignity he had left was HILARIOUS! I have never seen a meltdown and such a messy interview like that. "I didn't -- but of COURSE I did... no, I didn't say that.... but I did, and I'm proud of it!" 

Meltdown? What? Oh, you mean when that idiot Cuomo was having a hissy fit because he couldn’t rattle his cage. Mr. Steroids should know he was dealing with a former top prosecutor, if anything, Cuomo should check on his own temper. Lol

Classic. What an absolute moron. I look forward to the day Trump finally throws him Under the bus and he cries about how 'unfair' it all is and tries to milk his time during 9/11 to try and get some esteem back. Haha. What a complete and total loser.

Trump and Giuliani go way, way back and yes, Giuliani made NY a safe place when before he took office was worse than Somalia and that’s putting it mildly. Now it’s turning back into its former self thanks to the smart and highly educated Democratic leadership. But seriously what do the Dems thin will happen THIS TIME? Yaaaawn....

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Giuliani Is Trump's crazed rodeo clown!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This could finally see him removed from office, and Pence into the bargain, plus Rudy indicted as a co-conspirator. Testimony from their counterparts in Ukraine is essential in getting to the bottom of this. Essentially, deliver of a congressionally approved military aid package was held hostage to the Ukraine government's assistance pursuing a vendetta against one of Lump's political opponent's kids. If this doesn't rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, nothing does.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Trump could just end this by releasing the transcript oof the conversation.

Haahahhaahahaahhahaahahhaha.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Rudy was always weird, but I admired his performance after 9/11 and his stint as Mayor.

But what a fall - he now looks like someone's doddering old Grandpa. Just watching his eyes flicker about makes me think of Charles Manson.

And he freely contradicted himself during yesterday's CNN interview - Did you ask the Ukrainians to investigate Biden's son? "No". Then two minutes later in reply to the same question he says "Of Course"....

Just like Trump, he's obviously well into dementia and needs to step down and seek medical help.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

One President threatening another President that unless he cooperates with his personal lawyer and digs up dirt on his political opponent, the other President’s country doesn’t get any official government aid.

Seems like something any decent , God fearing, honest President would do....

4 ( +5 / -1 )

zichiToday 11:18 am JSTGiuliani Is Trump's crazed rodeo clown!

And Trump is the worst traitor in all of history. He truly sold his soul to Putin and is a slave to Russian desires. How can he sleep, let alone even stand himself?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

If true, impeach the gentleman.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

An intelligence community watchdog determined that the whistleblower complaint was credible,

Given Trump supporters don't believe the US intelligence community's findings, no doubt they'll wait once again to see what the Kremlin says, and then parrot Moscow's reports.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

bass4funk: "Meltdown? What? Oh, you mean when that idiot Cuomo was having a hissy fit because he couldn’t rattle his cage."

Haha. Wrong, bud. Giuliani had a complete and utter meltdown, contradicting himself within the same sentence even. In less than two minutes he said he did not seek an investigation into Joe Biden, then he said of course he did, then he said he didn't say that, and then he said he sought it and is proud of it. He was so rattled he was visibly shaking, slurring, and was more out to lunch than usual. That you can't see or understand that says... well... that you're as in denial as usual.

"Giuliani made NY a safe place when before he took office was worse than Somalia and that’s putting it mildly"

Hogwash... he was busy marrying cousins and resorting to racism when he "lucked into" 9-11 and then claimed it as his pedestal, doing little more than bragging about it, much like Trump bragged about "Trump tower now being the tallest building" (near "7-11") on the DAY OFF the attacks! And what little credibility he may have gotten for his role during and after 9/11, he has squandered away Inside Trump's backside. He will die, probably soon, being known as the circus clown he has become. Guaranteed within the Week he'll be digging in, denying he said what he said, getting FURIOUS and red-faced when the tape is shown showing him saying it, then ultimately say, again, "Who cares if the president did it?" and then the White House once again denying and going into damage mode.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

starpunk: "And Trump is the worst traitor in all of history. "

Absolutely, and 100% guilty of treason on a number of counts.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This actually hurts Biden more than Trump.

trump is just saying investigate what happened and we should, there is the video where Biden says clearly that we won’t give Ukraine 1 billion dollars if they don’t fire the prosecutor investigating his son in 6 hours. They then fired the guy.

Hillary has prepared comments on this too, she has been very talkative recently. so this is likely the Biden/Hillary switch from Dems.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

The whistleblower didn’t hear the conversation first hand, that’s kind of an important point that was buried under all the speculation. Ukraine actually reached out to the State Department who asked Giuliani to be involved.

By day 2 or 3 most things never really go as liberals planned. The facts seem to come out to show its not what is being claimed nearly every single time.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

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