Whistleblower in Trump-Ukraine Phone Call Scandal is CIA Officer - Reports
00:07 27.09.2019(updated 00:08 27.09.2019)
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - House Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry based on the whistleblower's complaint. According to a White House transcript of the call, US President Donald Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to probe former Vice President Joe Biden's role in removing Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin in 2016.
The whistleblower who filed the complaint regarding Trump's controversial phone call with Zelensky is an officer in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The New York Times broke the news on Thursday, citing three sources familiar with the individual's identity
The whistleblower had at some point been reportedly detailed to work at the White House. Notably, the whistleblower returned to the CIA after the complaint was issued, according to the media report.
The whistleblower's attorneys did not confirm to The New York Times that he worked for the CIA but said that publishing any information about him would be dangerous. The CIA also reportedly declined to comment on the matter.
According to the complaint, which was released earlier in the day, the whistleblower received information from multiple government officials that Trump was using executive power "to solicit interference from a foreign country" in the 2020 US election. The complaint also acknowledged not being a direct witness to Trump's call with Zelensky.
Ukraine's chief prosecutor Viktor Shokin had at one point led a corruption probe into Burisma Holdings - a natural gas firm - whose board Biden's son Hunter sat on from 2014 until this April. Burisma's president in January of 2017 said the case had been closed after the firm's extensive cooperation with Ukrainian authorities, according to the Kyiv Post newspaper.
Earlier on Thursday, acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire told the House Intelligence Committee in a hearing that he believes the whistleblower was operating in good faith and has followed the law.
Maguire also backed the intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who determined that the whistleblower's complaint was credible and urgent.
The White House on Wednesday declassified an unredacted transcript of the phone conversation.
The transcript revealed that the US president did ask Zelensky to work with his personal lawyer and the US attorney general to "look into" the case of Joe Biden, who "went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution" into his son's possible corruption in Ukraine.
Zelensky, in turn, assured Trump that Ukraine's next prosecutor general would be "100 percent my person" and would look into the Biden case. The transcript did not contain signs that the US president overtly threatened to withhold financial assistance to Ukraine.
Trump has, however, acknowledged that he blocked nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine before he spoke to Zelensky, but denied that he pressured the Ukrainian president into investigating Biden.
The US president has dismissed the accusations of misconduct and impeachment proceedings as another instance of "witch hunt".
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has accused Trump of seeking Ukraine's help to smear Joe Biden, who is a contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and of using defence assistance to Ukraine as a bargaining tool. Consequently, Pelosi said she is directing the six congressional committees to proceed with their official impeachment inquiry into the matter.
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