Update: Trump Responds to Whistleblower Firestorm Involving Call With Ukraine, ‘It Was a Beautiful Call’
We now know that the phone call the whistleblower has brought to the national stage was a call with Ukraine. The Washington Post reported:
The complaint involved communications with a foreign leader and a ‘promise’ that Trump made, which was so alarming that a U.S. intelligence official who had worked at the White House went to the inspector general of the intelligence community, two former U.S. officials said.
Two and a half weeks before the whistleblower filed the complaint, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who was “elected in a landslide in May.” The WaPo reports that “that call is already under investigation by House Democrats who are examining whether Trump and his attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani sought to manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping Trump’s reelection campaign.” A full transcript of that call has been requested.
A lawyer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence “had contradicted the inspector general and found that the whistleblower complaint did not meet the statutory definition of an urgent concern because it involved a matter not under the DNI’s jurisdiction.”
Inspector General Michael Atkinson made it clear when he testified behind closed doors to members of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday that he disagreed with the lawyer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “Atkinson told lawmakers…he felt the matter was under the DNI’s purview – and also that it was urgent ‘in the common understanding of the word.”
According to two people familiar with his testimony, “Atkinson told the committee that the complaint did not stem from just one conversation.” In the three hours of his closed door testimony, Atkinson “repeatedly declined to discuss with members the content of the complaint, saying he was not authorized to do so.”
Since the closed door meeting, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) has “warned of legal action if intelligence officials did not share the whistleblower complaint.” The plot thickens now that we know the call was with the leader of Ukraine. According to the Washington Post article:
In letters to the White House and State Department, top Democrats earlier this month demanded records related to what they say are Trump and Giuliani’s efforts ‘to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing two politically-motivated investigations under the guise of anti-corruption activity’…
One to help Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is in prison for illegal lobbying and financial fraud, and a second to target the son of former Vice President Joe Biden…
‘As the 2020 election draws closer, President Trump and his personal attorney appear to have increased pressure on the Ukrainian government and its justice system in service of President Trump’s reelection campaign, and the White House and the State Department may be abetting this scheme,’ the chairmen of the House Intelligence Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees wrote, citing media reports that Trump had threatened to withhold $250 million in aid to help Ukraine in its ongoing struggle against Russian-backed separatists.
Giuliani dismissed the reports of the whistle blower and Trump’s ‘promise’ to a foreign leader.
UPDATE: Trump Responds to Whistleblower and Call with Ukraine