How the White House and Justice learned about whistleblower

Intelligence official initially filed a complaint about Trump’s Ukraine dealings with the CIA

The White House and the Justice Department learned about a CIA officer’s concerns about President Donald Trump around the same time the individual filed a whistleblower complaint that is now at the centre of an impeachment inquiry, according to a U.S. official and another person familiar with the matter.

The new details help flesh out the timeline of how alarm bells about Trump’s call with the Ukraine leader, in which he pressed for an investigation of a political rival, reverberated across the U.S. government and inside the upper ranks of its intelligence and law enforcement agencies. The details are fueling objections by Democratic lawmakers that the administration stonewalled them for weeks about the phone call and took extraordinary measures to suppress it from becoming public.

The intelligence official initially filed a complaint about Trump’s Ukraine dealings with the CIA, which then alerted the White House and the Justice Department. On Aug. 12, the official raised a separate flag, this time with the intelligence community’s inspector general, a process that granted the individual more legal “whistleblower” protection.

At that time, the complaint filed with the inspector general, the report that was the focus of House hearings this week, remained private.

But information about the whistleblower was already making its way through the administration. On Aug. 14, A White House lawyer, John Eisenberg, and a CIA official alerted the head of the Justice Department’s national security division about the original complaint to the CIA.

John Demers, who has led the national security division for the past year and a half and was a senior official at the department during the George W. Bush administration, went to the White House the next day to review materials associated with the call.

READ MORE: Trump prodded Ukraine leader on Biden claims: memo

In the following weeks, Demers had discussions with other Justice Department officials about how to handle the CIA complaint, according to the person familiar with the matter. It was during that period that the Justice Department also received a notification from the intelligence community’s inspector general about the whistleblower complaint.

The timeline raises questions about how the White House and the Justice Department handled that second complaint. The administration initially blocked Congress from viewing it, and only released a redacted version of the report to lawmakers this week after the House impeachment inquiry had begun.

The Justice Department said Attorney General William Barr was first notified of Trump’s Ukraine call in late August, weeks after it happened, when the department learned that the inspector general believed the conversation could have amounted to a federal campaign finance crime.

The attorney general himself is referenced repeatedly in the call. The president presses Ukraine’s leader to work with Barr and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to investigate corruption accusations, repeated with no evidence, against Democratic rival Joe Biden. The Justice Department has said Trump has never discussed the matter with Barr, or asked Barr to speak with Ukraine’s president about it.

Justice Department prosecutors reviewed a rough transcript of the Trump-Ukraine call – the official record kept by the White House – and determined that no crime was committed.

The House intelligence committee released the whistleblower’s complaint on Thursday. The nine-page letter details a July 25 phone call between Trump and Volodymyr Zelenskiy and also alleges that the White House sought to “lock down” details of the call by moving it onto a secure, classified computer system.

The complaint also details extensive interactions between Giuliani and Ukrainian officials.

The person familiar with the matter, as well as another person with knowledge of the case, confirmed that the whistleblower was a CIA officer.

The Associated Press is publishing information about the whistleblower’s background because the person’s credibility is central to the impeachment inquiry into the president. The New York Times first reported that the individual was a CIA officer.

A U.S. official and the two people familiar with the matter spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

One of the whistleblower’s attorneys, Mark Zaid, said publishing details about the individual places the person in a dangerous situation, personally and professionally. The CIA referred questions to the inspector general.

Eric Tucker, Michael Balsamo And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wetaskiwin RCMP seeking witnesses to car-jacking

Armed theft resulted in two subjects facing multiple charges

Wetaskiwin RCMP Investigate Shooting incident in Poplar Grove

VW sedan may be linked to Wetaskiwin gun incident

Second annual Sledz and Treadz Poker Rally at Pigeon Lake Feb. 29

Vehicle and poker event will benefit Lakedell School

Summer villages would like to fix Range Road #11

County of Wetaskiwin hears about problems with Pigeon Lake route

Farmers, please check your canola bins

Spoiling occurs, and producers don’t want to suffer for it

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Most Read