Updated Sep 25, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Democrats 'disturbed' after reviewing whistleblower complaint

House Intel committee Democrats

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters Wednesday after reviewing the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower complaint behind closed doors that the materials he viewed "exposed serious wrongdoing" and provided the committee with information to follow up on.

The big picture: The Democratic members who were willing to speak to reporters after leaving the room expressed alarm at the contents of the complaint. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) called the complaint "troubling and disturbing," while Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) said that the materials he read "only corroborate the concerns that this is credible and urgent."

What they're saying: Schiff added that "the idea that the Department of Justice would have intervened to prevent it from getting to Congress, throws the leadership of the department into further ill repute."

  • Both Swalwell and Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), a loyal defender of President Trump, called on the whistleblower to testify.
  • Ratcliffe said he didn't think the report was that damaging, and that the information in it doesn't justify impeachment. He did say the report provided information that went beyond the transcript.
  • Ratcliffe also said lawmakers don't know who the whistleblower is. Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) did not comment to reporters.
  • Sen. Ben Sasse called out Democrats for rushing to use the word "impeach," but added: "Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons to say there’s no there there when there’s obviously lots that’s very troubling there."
  • Rep. Joaquin Castro described the whistleblower report as "bigger than I thought."

Worth noting: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was seen entering the restricted area where the report is being reviewed. She told reporters that she couldn't discuss the whistleblower complaint in detail because it had been "retroactively classified" by the Trump administration.

  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who as a member of the Gang of 8 was also permitted to view the complaint, said: “I’m even more worried about what happened than when I read the memorandum of the conversation. There are so many facts that have to be examined. It’s very troubling."

What to watch: Swalwell told reporters the committee did not receive the full inspector general report that accompanies the whistleblower complaint, but said the whistleblower "invokes other witnesses to the disturbing conduct." Acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire is expected to testify before the House Intelligence Committee in open session on Thursday.

Go deeper: Schiff calls Trump-Ukraine call a "classic Mafia-like shakedown"

This story has been updated with additional comments from Schiff and Ratcliffe.

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