Second whistleblower in Trump-Ukraine scandal comes forward: Report

Washington, United StatesUpdated: Oct 06, 2019, 06:56 PM IST
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US President Donald Trump hosts a Keep America Great rally at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, on September 16, 2019. Photograph:(Reuters)

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Mark Zaid confirmed that the second official, also from the United States intelligence community, has been interviewed by the inspector general.

A second whistleblower, with first-hand knowledge of President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine, has spoken with the intelligence community's internal watchdog, the lawyer representing the official said on Sunday.

Mark Zaid confirmed in an interview with ABC's "This Week" that the second official, also from the United States intelligence community, has been interviewed by the inspector general. Zaid represents the first whistleblower who filed a complaint involving a July 25 phone call Trump held with Ukraine's president in which he asked him to investigate a Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the Ukraine inquiry a 'silly gotcha game' on Saturday during a visit to Athens.

"This is what's wrong, when the world doesn't focus on the things that are right, the things that matter, the things that impact real people's lives, and instead you get caught up in some silly 'gotcha' game. You see, that's not healthy, that doesn't help democracies flourish," Pompeo said during a question and answer session following a speech in the Greek capital.

His comment was in response to whether there were any 'red flags' which required further investigation in a call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in July.

But in a new tactic, the White House plans to argue that U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi must have the full House vote to formally approve an impeachment inquiry, a source familiar with the effort said.

Without a vote, White House lawyers believe Trump can ignore lawmakers' requests, the source said, meaning the federal courts would presumably have to render a decision and potentially slow the march toward impeachment.

A White House letter arguing Pelosi must hold a House vote could be sent to Capitol Hill as early as Friday, the source said. It comes as the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee plans to issue more subpoenas in the coming days as it pushes ahead with the investigation.

Trump's gambit is emerging at the end of a storm-tossed week for him as the president lashed out at Democrats, reporters and anyone else standing in his way to air complaints that he was being unfairly accused and had done nothing wrong.

Democrats want to prove Trump sought personal political gain by appealing to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July 25 phone call to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who earned money from a Ukrainian gas company.

Joe Biden, the former vice president, leads in most opinion polls among the 19 Democrats seeking their party's nomination to take on Trump in the November 2020 election.