Trump Released Ukraine Aid After Being Told of Whistleblower Complaint: Report
President Trump was aware of a whistleblower’s complaint regarding his July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine before he released vital military aid to the nation, The New York Times reports.
Pat Cipollone and John Eisenberg, lawyers in the White House counsel’s office, reportedly informed the president in late August of the complaint. They had decided that the administration could withhold the whistleblower’s report from Congress because of executive privilege, and told Trump they would ask the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel if it agreed, which it did a week later.
Word of the complaint ultimately did reach Congress when the whistleblower, a C.I.A. officer, contacted an aide to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the head of the House Intelligence Committee. The whistleblower, whose identity has not been made public, later filed a complaint with the intelligence community’s inspector general in mid-August.
In light of this new information, at least two phone calls involving the president now come under greater scrutiny. Days after Trump became aware of the complaint, he denied to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) that the aid holdup was dependent on some type of action required of the Ukrainian president. In a September call with U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland, Trump again denied the existence of a “quid pro quo,” according to Sondland’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee last week.
The administration ultimately released the nearly $400 million in aid on September 11, two days after House committees began looking into the matter.