Whistleblower alleges White House coverup
Speaking to CNN from his room at the Trump International Hotel, Rudy Giuliani said he has "no knowledge of any of that crap" in the newly released complaint from an American intelligence community whistleblower.
Asked this morning about details from the complaint that multiple US officials were “deeply concerned” about Giuliani’s activities speaking with Ukrainian officials and nationals, Giuliani called the charge “total nonsense.”
Giuliani refuted claims included in the complaint that two State Department officials had spoken to him to “contain the damage” he was doing to US national security interests regarding his work with Ukraine. “
At no time did either one of them say they wanted to contain damage,” Giuliani told CNN. “At no time did the State Department in communication with me ever relay any of that information you’re talking about.”
Giuliani also said he had a “nice little trail” of text message conversations with the top US diplomat to Ukraine, Karl Volker, to prove his story.
“I spoke to the State Department during the course of this situation, I told you, at least 10 times, and I met with them,” Giuliani said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi read aloud parts of the public whistleblower complaint during her weekly presser:
"The complaint states that the White House tried to lock down all records of the call, especially the word for word transcript. That gave the whistleblower reason to believe that they, the White House, understood the gravity of what transpired in that call. The complaint reports a quote, repeated abuse of an electronics record system designed to store classified, sensitive national security information which the White House used to hide information of a political nature."
"This is a cover up," Pelosi said. "This is a cover up."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said there is "no rush to judgement" when asked about how House will proceed with the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
She noted that some in the Democratic caucus want to rush into impeachment, but she added that it’s important to “have an inquiry to further establish the facts.”
Here's how she described it at her weekly news conference:
“We have to make a judgement in an inquiry as we go forward ... There are some in our caucus who think let’s just have an impeachment. No, we have to have an inquiry to further establish the facts. There is no rush to judgement and in some ways we are a jury, open to what might be exculpatory or not. But every day, the sadness grows because the disregard for our Constitution that the President has becomes more clear.”
The House Speaker is talking to reporters now. We will post those key highlights here in moments.
Republicans are keying in to the fact that the whistleblower acknowledges he or she did not have first-hand knowledge of most of the events described.
“I was not a direct witness to most of the events described,” the whistleblower wrote.
The Intelligence Inspector General said he thought the claims were credible and that drove his push to provide Congress the details and refer the matter to the Justice Department for consideration of criminality.
But the public now has a way to test at least part of his claims: His description of the President’s phone call with the leader of Ukraine. By all appearances, his information was spot on.
The description of the call comprises the first set of claims in the complaint and the whistleblower says he is aware of it because of “White House officials with direct knowledge of the call.”
The whistleblower then goes on to explain what transpired on the July 25 call in details that match up with the White House transcript released just yesterday.
The whistleblowers' complaint — which was released publicly today — describes key parts of the call: The push to investigate Hunter Biden and Joe Biden, the allegations regarding Crowdstrike and the push to talk to Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr.
A US defense official told CNN that the Pentagon is “compiling all the facts” to be able to respond to Inspector General and members of Congress.
The official said it is still the case that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s involvement was limited to the talking points he made in the phone call to counterpart.
According to a senior administration official, the talking points for Esper’s call with his Ukrainian counterpart on September 18 are...
- Had Ukraine taken steps to broadly address corruption enough to assure any funds and equipment would be handled properly.
- Was North Atlantic Treaty Organization or any European partners looking to provide, or asked to provide similar assistance. This was in fact a standard theme with Esper.
- Was the package tailored to be a good return on investment in deterring or checking Russian aggression.
Some background: A group of democratic senators sent a letter yesterday to the Pentagon’s inspector general requesting the IG to investigate President Trump’s delay of military aid to Ukraine and that it was “allegedly at the direction of the White House.”
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire said President Trump never asked him to find out the identity of the whistleblower.
Answering a question from Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier, Maguire said:
"I can say — although I would not normally discuss my conversations with the President, I can tell you emphatically, no."
He added that no one else in the White House or in the Justice Department asked him to do so.
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire said other foreign leaders may be "more cautious" when talking to the President and speak to him less after the White House released a rough transcript of the call between Trump and Ukraine's leader.
"I think that other future leaders, when they interact with our head of state, might be more cautious in what they say and reduce the interaction that they have with the President because of that release," he said.
While the whistleblower's complaint has been released, we still do not know the identity or even the gender of the person who filed it.
Representatives questioning Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire at today's hearing have referred to the whistleblower as "he or she." Maguire has called the whistleblower "he" multiple times.
However, Maguire said in this hearing that he doesn't know who the whistleblower is either.
"I do not know the identity of the whistleblower," he said.