Yet another whistle-blower emerges in Trump inquiry

Monday, October 7th, 2019 00:00 |
President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky during a meeting in New York last month. Trump’s phone call to Zelensky has landed him into problems. Photo/AFP

  Washington, Sunday

A second whistle-blower has come forward, this one with first-hand information of the events that triggered an impeachment investigation of US President Donald Trump for alleged abuse of power.

“I can confirm this report of a second #whistle-blower being represented by our legal team,” the informant’s lawyer, Mark Zaid, said on Twitter Sunday.

 “They also made a protected disclosure under the law and cannot be retaliated against. This whistle-blower has first-hand knowledge.”

Earlier Sunday, Zaid’s co-counsel, Andrew Bakaj, said his firm and team “represent multiple whistle-blowers” in the case accusing Trump of using the powers of his office to pressure Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone call to investigate political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

It was unclear whether Bakaj was using “multiple” to refer to more than two whistle-blowers. Typically, several officials would listen in on a call between the president and a foreign leader, while others would have access to a written transcript or summary.

The existence of a whistleblower claiming first-hand knowledge would make it harder for the president and his supporters to dismiss the original complaint as hearsay, as they have repeatedly done. 

Trump pushed back at the allegations in two tweets early Sunday, though he made no mention of the second whistle-blower.

He repeated his assertion that Hunter Biden had been “handed $100,000 a month (Plus, Plus) from a Ukrainian based company, even though he had no experience in energy...and separately got 1.5 Billion Dollars from China despite no experience and for no apparent reason.” 

He added that as president, “I have an obligation to look into possible, or probable, corruption!”

No evidence

No evidence has been found that either Biden did anything illegal.

A bit unusually for a Sunday, Trump was staying in the White House rather than travelling or playing golf. 

The Democrat-led investigating committee is eager to speak to someone who witnessed the call directly or has more information. They are hopeful that this could be that person.

The White House insists it has been open and released a transcript of the call, after the concerns came to light.

However, investigators point out that this was only a partial transcript. They have subpoenaed the State Department for more documents related to the call.

On Saturday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would comply with the request, but complained that his staff were being harassed.

The impeachment investigation saga began after the original whistle-blower —an intelligence official—filed a formal complaint to the intelligence community inspector general about Trump’s alleged pressuring of Zelensky.

A rough transcript of the phone call later released by the White House, as well as a series of text messages between US diplomats, appeared to corroborate the original complaint. -AFP

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