House Democrats may have fresh information to work with after a new whistleblower stepped forward with firsthand knowledge of key events leading up to the controversy that sparked an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, The Associated Press reported Monday.
The second individual, who could corroborate the original whistleblower’s complaint, gripped Washington over the weekend and heightened the stakes for Trump.
The original whistleblower, a CIA officer, filed a formal complaint with the inspector general in August that triggered the impeachment inquiry. The document alleged that Trump had used a July telephone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a political rival, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter, prompting a White House cover-up.
Trump and his supporters deny that he did anything improper, but the White House has struggled to come up with a unified response.
As noted by the AP, “a second whistleblower with direct knowledge could undermine efforts by Trump and his allies to discredit the original complaint. They have called it politically motivated, claimed it was filed improperly and dismissed it as unreliable because it was based on secondhand or thirdhand information.”
A rough transcript of Trump’s call with Zelenskiy, released by the White House, has already corroborated the complaint’s central claim that Trump sought to pressure Ukraine on the investigation.
Text messages from State Department officials revealed other details, including that Ukraine was promised a visit with Trump if the government would agree to investigate the 2016 election and a Ukrainian gas company tied to Biden’s son — the outline of a potential quid pro quo.
Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said word of a second whistleblower indicates a larger shift inside the government.
“The president’s real problem is that his behavior has finally gotten to a place where people are saying, ‘Enough,’” Himes said.
Trump stayed at the White House on Sunday, where he tweeted and retweeted, with the Bidens as main target.
“The great Scam is being revealed!” Trump wrote at one point, continuing to paint himself as the victim of a “deep state” and hostile Democrats.
Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, wrote in The Washington Post that he had a message for Trump and “those who facilitate his abuses of power. … Please know that I’m not going anywhere. You won’t destroy me, and you won’t destroy my family.”