Whistle-blower planning to testify against Donald Trump
A second intelligence official who was alarmed by President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine is weighing whether to file his own formal whistleblower complaint and testify to Congress, New York Times reported Saturday, quoting two persons briefed on the matter.
The intel official has more direct information about the events than the first whistleblower, whose complaint that Trump was using his power to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals touched off an impeachment inquiry. The second official is among those interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general to corroborate the allegations of the original whistleblower, one of the people said.
The inspector general, Michael Atkinson, briefed lawmakers privately on Friday about how he substantiated the whistleblower’s account. It was not clear whether he told lawmakers that the second official is considering filing a complaint.
A new complaint, particularly from someone closer to the events, would potentially add further credibility to the account of the first whistleblower, a CIA officer who was detailed to the National Security Council at one point. He said that he relied on information from more than half a dozen American officials to compile his allegations about Trump’s campaign to solicit foreign election interference that could benefit him politically.
Other evidence has emerged to back the whistleblower’s claim. A reconstructed transcript of a July call between Trump and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy released by the White House also showed Trump pressuring Ukraine. Trump appeared to believe that its release would quell the push for impeachment, but it only emboldened House Democrats.
Because the second official has met with Atkinson’s office, it was unclear whether he needs to file a complaint to gain the legal protections offered to intelligence community whistleblowers. Witnesses who speak with inspectors general are protected by federal law that outlaws reprisals against officials who cooperate with an inspector general.
Whistleblowers have created a new threat for Trump. Though the White House has stonewalled Democrats in Congress investigating allegations raised in the special counsel’s report, the president has little similar ability to stymie whistleblowers from speaking to Congress.
Trump and his allies have taken aim at the credibility of the original whistleblower by noting that he had secondhand knowledge. The president has also singled out his sources, saying that they were “close to a spy.”