Donald Trump has consistently criticized the whistle-blower complaint at the heart of the impeachment inquiry as being based on second- and third-hand information.
Of course, that’s largely irrelevant now, considering both the transcript of the president’s call with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky and the text messages turned over to Congress on Thursday back up the allegations in the complaint.
But, in case lawmakers need to hear the story from someone who was closer to the events, a second official is now considering filing his own formal complaint. That’s according to two people who spoke to The New York Times following a closed-door briefing between lawmakers and intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson on Friday.
“The official has more direct information about the events than the first whistle-blower, whose complaint that Mr. Trump was using his power to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals touched off an impeachment inquiry”, the Times writes, adding that “the second official is among those interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general to corroborate the allegations of the original whistle-blower”.
IG Atkinson alerted Congress to the original complaint while acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire (who would later testify in public) withheld it longer than mandated by law. As it turns out, House intelligence chair Adam Schiff had been made aware of the complaint previously.
It’s not known whether Atkinson (whose Friday appearance on Capitol Hill was his second in a month) told lawmakers that another formal complaint may be coming.
Obviously, a second complaint penned by someone closer to the events would help validate the original complaint which was itself substantiated by Atkinson. Maguire (Trump’s own DNI), called the first complaint credible. “I believe the whistleblower is operating in good faith and has followed the law”, he told lawmakers. “Absolutely not.”, he said, when asked whether he had “any reason to accuse him or her of disloyalty to the country”. “I believe the whistle-blower followed the steps every way”, Maguire declared.
Trump isn’t convinced.
“I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION, but also the person who illegally gave this information, which was largely incorrect, to the ‘Whistleblower’”, the president seethed, in one of dozens upon dozens of tweets. “Was this person SPYING on the US President?”, he asked. “Big Consequences!”
The president has been accused of trying to intimidate witnesses and has openly (and knowingly) broken laws on whistle-blower protections. It’s unclear how, exactly, he would respond were a second person to pen a complaint, but there’s every reason to believe he would spin it as still more evidence of “spying”, “treason” and a “deep state”, “coup” plot orchestrated by would-be usurpers.
Meanwhile, Mike Pompeo has officially defied a congressional subpoena. The deadline to produce documents demanded by Congress expired at midnight.