- Title: Sparks fly as Republican senator defends Trump amid expanding whistlebower case
- Date: 6th October 2019
- Summary: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (RECENT) (REUTERS) WIDE SHOT OF U.S. CAPITOL BUILDING
- Embargoed: 20th October 2019 18:53
- Keywords: Trump impeachment clash whistleblowers White House Ukraine Biden
- Location: WASHINGTON, D.C., LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES; INTERNET
- City: WASHINGTON, D.C., LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES; INTERNET
- Country: USA
- Topics: Lawmaking,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001AZYLP3B
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Tensions mounted in Washington, D.C. after a lawyer said on Sunday (October 6) that a second whistleblower had come forward about President Donald Trump's attempts to get the Ukrainian president to investigate a political rival.
Lawyer Mark Zaid said the person was an intelligence official with first-hand knowledge of some of the allegations involving the initial whistleblower complaint, which triggered impeachment proceedings against the Republican president.
Against this backdrop, an exchange on NBC's 'Meet the Press' became heated when Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin declared that he does not trust the CIA or FBI amid questioning over Ukraine.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticutt said on the broadcast he was "deeply scared" by the position that Republicans "have chosen to take" in defending Trump's conduct.
Trump himself weighed in on Twitter on Sunday, Trump railing against the "do-nothing" Democrats' impeachment and touting his high approval ratings among Republicans.
"95% Approval Rating in the Republican Party. Thank you!", he wrote.
The second whistleblower has been interviewed by the intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, Zaid said.
The first whistleblower complaint, filed with the inspector general on Aug. 12, cited information received from half a dozen U.S. officials expressing concern that Trump was using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country as he seeks re-election a second term in 2020.
It also alleged that Trump leveraged $400 million in aid to secure a promise from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, who served as a director on a Ukrainian energy company.
Confirmation of a second whistleblower followed stirrings of discontent within Trump's own Republican Party after he called on China on Friday to investigate Biden's son, who had business dealings in China.
Republican U.S. Senators Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Susan Collins expressed concerns about Trump reaching out to foreign countries to help him in his 2020 re-election bid.
However, other Republicans stood firmly in support of Trump on Sunday, echoing the president's insistence that the call was not significant.
Trump has maintained there was no "quid pro quo" in his request of the Ukrainian president, but text messages released by congressional committees leading the inquiry showed otherwise.
The committees released the texts involving Trump's Ukraine envoy, Kurt Volker, after he testified behind closed doors on Thursday.
The committees this week expect to hear from another U.S. diplomat, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a committee official confirmed on Sunday. Sondland worked closely with Volker and Trump's personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani on the Ukraine effort.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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