President Donald Trump has called the allegations against him as ‘ridiculous’ and a ‘witch hunt’. (AP: Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
A second whistleblower has come forward with information about US President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, a lawyer says.
- Lawyer says the second whistleblower has been interviewed by the intelligence community’s internal watchdog
- Second whistleblower hasn’t filed an official complaint
- Secretary of State says his department will follow the law in terms of the impeachment investigation
Mark Zaid, who represents the original whistleblower whose complaint has triggered the impeachment inquiry, said the second whistleblower also worked in intelligence and had “firsthand knowledge that supported” the original accusations.
The original whistleblower complained that Mr Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country” in the 2020 US election.
But Mr Trump and his supporters have rejected the accusations that he did anything improper.
Mr Zaid said the second whistleblower had spoken to the intelligence community’s internal watchdog, but had not filed a complaint with the inspector general.
Mr Trump had asked for an investigation into Joe Biden, his Democratic rival, in a July 25 phone call with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, at a time when millions of dollars in US military assistance to the country was being held up.
During the July phone call, Mr Trump said there had been “a lot of talk” that Mr Biden had shut down a Ukrainian investigation into a company where his son worked.
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney-General would be great,” Mr Trump said in the call with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to the summary provided by the US Justice Department.
“Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me,” he said, according to the memo.
Mr Trump said the inquiry would be “a favour”.
Mr Trump’s allegations have largely been debunked and there has been no evidence of illegal conduct or wrongdoing in Ukraine by the Bidens.
The call occurred after Mr Trump had ordered the US Government to freeze about $391 million in American aid to Ukraine.
Mr Trump said he froze the aid to Ukraine because he wanted to “see other countries helping Ukraine also, not just us.”
In his first press conference since the transcript was released, Mr Trump called the whistleblower’s allegations a “big hoax” and a “witch hunt” and said he expects full transparency over the complaint.
“The so-called whistleblower, the one that didn’t have any first-class or first-rate or second-tier information from what I understand. You’ll have to figure that out for yourself,” Mr Trump said.
“I didn’t threaten anybody … I didn’t do it,” he told reporters.
Last month, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal investigation that could lead to impeachment proceedings against Mr Trump.
Meanwhile, Congressional committees carrying out the impeachment investigation have ordered the White House to turn over documents to support the probe.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the State Department had yet to turn over any documents, but intended to follow a proper review.
He said the department sent a letter to Congress on Friday night as its initial response to the document request.
“We’ll obviously do all the things that we’re required to do by law,” Mr Pompeo said.
He is allowing Democrats to interview a series of department witnesses this coming week. Among them is Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, another key figure in the probe.
The Secretary of State has become a key figure in the Democrats’ investigation.
He was on the line during the July phone call in which Mr Trump pressed Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Mr Trump recently told reporters that China should also investigate Mr Biden, who is a frontrunner in the 2020 US Presidential race.
The administration has struggled to come up with a unified response to the quickly progressing investigation. Democrats have warned that defying their demands will in itself be considered “evidence of obstruction” and a potentially impeachable offense.