Oct 9, 2019

Ukraine whistleblower never worked for political candidate, attorneys say

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shakes hand with President Trump. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The whistleblower whose allegations about President Trump and Ukraine have sparked an impeachment inquiry "never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign, or party," and spent their entire government career in apolitical positions, according to a statement released by the whistleblower's lawyers Wednesday night.

Why it matters: Republicans and the White House have been ramping up their attempts to discredit the whistleblower, seizing on an Aug. 26 letter from Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson in which he disclosed the whistleblower showed "some indicia of an arguable political bias ... in favor of a rival political candidate."

  • CNN later reported that one example of potential bias that Atkinson was referring to was that the whistleblower is a registered Democrat. On Wednesday, Axios confirmed that Atkinson told lawmakers that the whistleblower previously had "some type of professional relationship" with one of the 2020 Democratic candidates.
  • However, Atkinson still concluded that the whistleblower's allegations appeared credible.

Details: The whistleblowers' attorneys, Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid, clarified in their Wednesday statement that during their client's tenure as a career government official, the whistleblower has "come into contact with presidential candidates from both parties in their roles as elected officials – not as candidates."

  • They note that the whistleblower "voluntarily provided relevant career information" to Atkinson to help validate his or her complaint, and Atkinson concluded that the complaint was both "urgent and credible."

The bottom line: "[T]he whistleblower is not the story," the attorneys argue. "To date, virtually every substantive allegation has been confirmed by other sources. For that reason the identity of the whistleblower is irrelevant."

Go deeper: July 26 whistleblower memo claims White House official was "visibly shaken" by Ukraine call

Go deeper

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.