President Donald Trump said Sunday that he wants to meet the whistleblower behind the bombshell complaint at the center of his historic impeachment inquiry.
“Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called ‘Whistleblower,’ represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way,” Trump tweeted about the complaint, which alleges the president tried to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections and that the White House tried to hide the attempts.
An unnamed U.S. official within the intelligence community submitted the complaint that was declassified Thursday morning. According to the complaint, several White House officials said they were concerned by a July phone call in which Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President and potential 2020 rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
In that call, a summary of which the White House provided last week, Trump asked Zelensky to “do us a favor, though” immediately after the recently elected Ukrainian president said he was grateful for U.S. military aid to his country. The call came days after Trump froze nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.
The favors included investigating the Bidens, as well as investigating a conspiracy theory that the Democratic National Committee servers that Russia hacked to benefit Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 were not actually hacked. Trump urged Zelensky to meet with personal attorney and shadow diplomat Rudy Giuliani and to speak on the phone with Attorney General William Barr to discuss a potential investigation.
According to the complaint, senior White House officials worked to “lock down” all records of the call and were told by White House lawyers to move the electronic transcript from its usual system and place it into a top-secret system used for classified information.
Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for U.S. spy agencies, told acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire in an Aug. 26 letter that he found the whistleblower complaint “credible” and of “urgent concern.” After handing the complaint to Congress, Maguire told the House Intelligence Committee last Thursday that he believes the whistleblower “acted in good faith” and “did the right thing” by filing the complaint the director called “unprecedented.”
The complaint resulted in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) launching a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump last Tuesday. The House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight Committees have since issued subpoenas for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who Giuliani said on Sunday was “aware” of his meetings with Ukrainian officials.
The committees also scheduled depositions for five State Department officials, including Marie Yovanovitch, who was removed as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in May and who Trump threatened in his call to Zelensky; and Kurt Volker, who resigned Friday as U.S. special envoy to Ukraine after the whistleblower complaint’s release.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that the whistleblower has reportedly agreed to testify before the panel, though a date and time has not yet been set due to Maguire needing to complete the security clearance process for the whistleblower’s attorneys. One of the attorneys, Mark Zaid, tweeted that lawyers are still working with Congress and that everyone agrees “that protecting whistleblower’s identity is paramount.”
Trump has repeatedly questioned the whistleblower’s patriotism and threatened the person last week by saying those involved in the complaint should be dealt with as “we used to do” for “treason,” a sentence that can be punishable by death. He also said Sunday that Schiff should be questioned “at the highest level” for treason.
“In addition, I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION, but also the person who illegally gave this information … to the ‘Whistleblower,’” Trump tweeted Sunday evening. “Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!”