Oct 1, 2019

Intelligence community watchdog refutes Trump's whistleblower claims

President Trump arrives for a press conference in New York, Sept. 25. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The intelligence community inspector general issued a statement Monday refuting false claims by President Trump and his allies about the whistleblower whose complaint on Trump's interactions with Ukraine triggered a formal impeachment inquiry.

Why it matters: It's rare for the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community to issue such a statement. But it did so after the president and loyalist lawmakers made false claims while attacking the whistleblower's credibility over the complaint concerning Trump urging Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his family.

Context: Trump incorrectly stated that rules for whistleblowers had recently changed to not require firsthand information.

  • The claims seem to have been based on a since debunked report by the conservative site The Federalist about the whistleblower complaint form being revised.
  • The president and his loyal defenders on Capitol Hill also claimed incorrectly that the whistleblower lacked firsthand knowledge of the information in the report. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) accused the whistleblower of using "hearsay."

Key takeaways: The inspector general makes clear that these claims are inaccurate and that by law the complainant "need not possess first-hand information in order to file a complaint or information with respect to an urgent concern."

  • The inspector general also notes that the whistleblower "stated on the form that he or she possessed both first-hand and other information" and that they had "direct knowledge of certain alleged conduct."

What they're saying: The whistleblower's lawyer Mark Zaid issued a statement welcoming the inspector general's statement.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Second Ukraine whistleblower has "firsthand knowledge" of Trump allegations

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The attorney representing the whistleblower whose anonymous complaint about President Trump and Ukraine has sparked an impeachment inquiry confirmed to ABC News on Sunday that he is now representing a second whistleblower with "firsthand knowledge" of some of the allegations.

Why it matters: One of the attacks Trump and his allies have used to try to undermine the credibility of the first whistleblower is that he relied on secondhand information from other White House officials. There is no requirement in the whistleblower statute for firsthand information, but an official with direct knowledge of the allegations could provide even more explosive evidence in the impeachment investigation.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Oct 6, 2019

Chuck Grassley calls for whistleblower's identity to be protected

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) released a statement on Tuesday stressing that the Ukraine whistleblower who has set off an impeachment inquiry into President Trump "ought to be heard and protected."

"No one should be making judgements or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts. Uninformed speculation wielded by politicians or media commentators as a partisan weapon is counterproductive and doesn't serve the country."
Go deeperArrowOct 1, 2019

Trump wants to interview whistleblower despite federal protections

President Trump tweeted Tuesday that he wants to interview and "learn everything about" the Ukraine whistleblower, despite protections guaranteed under federal law.

"So if the so-called 'Whistleblower' has all second hand information, and almost everything he has said about my 'perfect' call with the Ukrainian President is wrong (much to the embarrassment of Pelosi & Schiff), why aren’t we entitled to interview & learn everything about the Whistleblower, and also the person who gave all of the false information to him.
Go deeperArrowOct 1, 2019