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

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Republicans scold Schiff for not seeking whistleblower's testimony

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republican leaders on the House committees investigating President Trump and Ukraine condemned House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff in a letter on Wednesday for failing to call the whistleblower to testify before them, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The letter marks the first time Republicans have formally demanded the statement of a witness involved in Democrats' impeachment inquiry. But "this particular whistleblower could also face a significant physical risk if his or her identity is exposed," Lawfare notes.

Go deeperArrowOct 23, 2019

Trump misrepresents whistleblower complaint in misleading tweet

President Trump tweeted Wednesday that the Ukraine whistleblower claimed his July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was "crazy, frightening, and completely lacking in substance" — a claim disproven by the whistleblower's complaint.

"The so-called Whistleblower, before knowing I was going to release the exact Transcript, stated that my call with the Ukrainian President was 'crazy, frightening, and completely lacking in substance related to national security.' This is a very big Lie. Read the Transcript!"
Go deeperArrowOct 9, 2019

The GOP's war over naming the Ukraine whistleblower

Photo: Bryan Woolston/Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) continued his controversial threats to name the Ukraine whistleblower on Tuesday, telling Fox News' Bret Baier that he "probably will" do so — days after calling on the media to print his name at a rally alongside President Trump.

The state of play: Paul's comments ignited a split within the Republican Party. Some Senate Republicans rebuked his comments, while some Trump allies — including the president's own son, Donald Trump Jr. — have publicly stated the whistleblower's alleged identity, which has been promoted among right-wing media.

Go deeperArrowNov 6, 2019