Second whistleblower comes forward in Trump-Ukraine scandal

US Politics

President Donald Trump talks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(NBC) – A second whistleblower has come forward with information about President Donald Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine, according to attorneys representing that whistleblower and the intelligence official whose earlier complaint set off a series of events that led to an impeachment inquiry.

The second whistleblower “has first-hand knowledge” of the events, according to the first whistleblower’s attorney, Mark Zaid. The original whistleblower did not listen directly to Trump’s call, but talked to people who had.

The first complaint, filed in August with the intelligence community’s inspector general, centered on a July 25 phone call during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to look into why Ukraine’s top prosecutor had apparently ended an investigation into a Ukrainian gas company that once employed former Vice President Joe Biden’s son as a board member. House Democrats launched a formal impeachment inquiry last month as details of the conversation were made public.

Legal sources told NBC News that second whistleblower is not filing a separate formal complaint, but that they are still entitled to legal protections for cooperating with the inspector general.

Trump has publicly maintained that the call was “absolutely perfect” and “totally appropriate.”

Text messages given to Congress Thursday and released by House Democrats suggest the call was part of a broader effort from Trump and his administration to pressure Ukraine.

The texts show U.S. ambassadors working to persuade Ukraine to publicly commit to investigating Trump’s political opponents and explicitly linking the inquiry to whether Ukraine’s president would be granted an official White House visit.

The messages offer the fullest picture to date of how top diplomats and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani sought to advance Trump’s goal of getting the Ukrainians to investigate both meddling in the 2016 election and Hunter Biden.

The new details on how Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine unfolded came as the president publicly called for another foreign country — China — to probe one of his top political opponents.

Trump lashed out at the second whistleblower on Saturday amid a day-long effort at defending himself on Twitter.

“The first so-called second hand information ‘Whistleblower’ got my phone conversation almost completely wrong, so now word is they are going to the bench and another ‘Whistleblower’ is coming in from the Deep State, also with second hand info,” Trump tweeted. “Meet with Shifty. Keep them coming!”

Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani responded to news of another whistleblower on Twitter Sunday morning, saying the “Swamp Media will corruptly fail to point out it means nothing, now that conversation is public.”

And in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said the latest whistleblower “does not matter.”

“This person is going to come forward and say, yep the president had this phone call,” Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said. “And yep, that’s the transcript. Why should I care at all what his opinion and judgment of this transcript is? You and I can read it.”

A White House summary of the July phone conversation, released last month, does not contradict the whistleblower complaint. The summary showed that Trump and Zelenskiy discussed military aid the U.S. provides Ukraine before Trump asked his counterpart for “a favor.” The president then asked Zelenskiy to investigate theories regarding Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 election and the Biden family.

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