TRUMP’S UKRAINE NIGHTMARE IS ABOUT TO GET MUCH, MUCH WORSE
Reports of a second, more formidable whistleblower loom, as scrutiny of Trump’s calls with foreign leaders continues in embarrassing detail.
As the object of President Trump’s rage over the Ukraine scandal ricochets from representative Adam Schiff, to pharmaceutical companies and the as-yet-unnamed whistleblower, a new nightmare looms. The New York Times reports that a second whistleblower is perhaps waiting in the wings, weighing whether to provide the “first-hand” details Trump claimed the first whistleblower could not.
According to the Times, an unnamed intelligence official with “more direct information” on Trump’s call with Ukraine president Volodymr Zelensky is considering a formal whistleblower complaint that would inevitably lead to their testimony before Congress. Two sources briefed on the matter identified the new whistleblower as a figure interviewed by intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson to corroborate claims made by the first—that Trump effectively made military aid to Ukraine contingent on Zelensky opening an investigation into Hunter Biden’s involvement with a Ukrainian oil company, and that the White House subsequently hid the call in a top-secret database.
It is not yet clear if the second official will formalize a whistleblower complaint—thereby circumventing the White House’s ability to keep this person’s testimony under wraps—though it would seem a more credible perspective of Trump’s call could undercut arguments the original whistleblower had no first-hand knowledge of the incident. A second whistleblower would also bolster house Democratic investigations into Trump’s communications with foreign leaders, which have thus far uncovered efforts with Australian, British, and potentially Italian leadership to work with attorney general William Barr to discredit the Mueller investigation.
Already, heightened scrutiny of Trump’s potentially corrupt dealings with foreign leaders has uncorked a torrent of leaks regarding his private conversations with his counterparts. On Friday night, the Washington Post reported a laundry list of gaffes and bizarre asks from Trump’s increasingly free-wheeling calls over the last few years. Not only has the president been reported as “obsequious” and “fawning” in conversations with Russian president Vladimir Putin, but Trump reportedly “pestered” Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe for his aid in securing a coveted Nobel Prize, told a Saudi royal he would back their country’s admission to the G-7, rambled to Chinese president Xi about chocolate cake, and repeatedly rejected then-British prime minister Theresa May’s intelligence-backed conclusion that the Russian government poisoned a former spy on their soil.
“There was a constant undercurrent in the Trump administration of [senior staff] who were genuinely horrified by the things they saw that were happening on these calls,” an anonymous former White House official told the Post. “Phone calls that were embarrassing, huge mistakes he made, months and months of work that were upended by one impulsive tweet.”
As to Ukraine, Trump’s attempts to portray his July 25 call with Zelensky as routine have been undermined by Thursday’s release of damning texts between Ukraine diplomat William B. Taylor Jr. and Kurt D. Volker, the State Department’s former special envoy for Ukraine, as well as Gordon D. Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union. Then there’s Trump himself, who brazenly invited investigations into the Biden family from both Ukraine and China, while standing on the White House lawn. If the leaks and whistleblower complaints go on, as they appear they will, the pressure for impeachment should only continue to build.
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