WASHINGTON — The U.S. intelligence whistleblower whose complaint spurred an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump has reached an agreement to testify before the House Intelligence Committee “very soon,” said the panel’s chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), on Sunday.
"We are taking all the precautions we can to ... allow that testimony to go forward in a way that protects the whistleblower's identity," Schiff told ABC’s “This Week.”
Hours after Schiff's interview, Trump took to Twitter to threaten "Big Consequences!" against the whistleblower and those U.S. officials who provided the individual with information. Trump said he wanted to meet those behind the complaint and demanded that Schiff be "questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason."
Trump’s supporters — including personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and White House senior adviser Steven Miller — made the rounds of the Sunday political talk show circuit to defend Trump’s push to have Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is the leading Democrat staging a 2020 challenge against Trump.
Congressional Democrats fanned out on the shows to defend the impeachment inquiry, arguing that Trump’s request for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden, and his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings, was an illicit effort by Trump to use his office to influence the 2020 election with the aid of a foreign government. Trump’s request to Zelensky, in a July 25 phone call, came days after Trump ordered the suspension of $400 million in U.S. foreign aid to Ukraine.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), appearing on CBS' "60 Minutes," said, "what the president did, he gave us no choice" but to open an inquiry.
"It is wrong for a president to say that he wants you, another head of state, to create something negative about his possible opponent to his own advantage at the expense of our national security," Pelosi said.
Trump has argued publicly that his call was “perfect” and there was nothing improper about asking a foreign ally to investigate a political adversary against the backdrop of withheld aid.
On Sunday, Trump’s Republican allies repeated their long-standing claims that Trump is the victim of a “deep state” effort to remove him from office.
Miller, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” compared the whistleblower’s Aug. 12 complaint, which was partially released on Thursday, to a “seven-page Nancy Drew novel” that “drips with condescension, righteous indignation and contempt for the president.”
Schiff, appearing on “This Week,” said the committee would get “unfiltered testimony” from the whistleblower whose complaint describes Trump’s July call with Zelensky and efforts by White House officials to “lock down” access to records of the call over concerns about the exchange.
Schiff told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that there will be a closed session hearing on Friday with the U.S. intelligence community’s inspector general to review what steps he took to corroborate the information in the complaint and what witnesses he spoke with.
Giuliani, who has come under scrutiny for meeting with high ranking Ukrainian officials on behalf of Trump for the purpose of pushing a probe into the Bidens, told ABC’s “This Week” his effort to open an investigation was “not about getting Joe Biden in trouble,” rather “this is about proving that Donald Trump was framed by the Democrats.”
Trump and Giuliani have accused Biden of forcing the removal of former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin to protect his son Hunter Biden from an investigation into Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company for which Hunter Biden served on its board of directors. But current Ukrainian officials have said that Shokin was forced out because he stymied anti-corruption investigations, and noted that the investigation into Burisma centered on Ukraine’s Ministry of Ecology and predated Biden’s time on the board.
Ukraine’s top anti-corruption official, Nazar Kholodnitskiy, told a Kyiv radio station on Friday that the Bidens were not the subject of any investigation, according to The Associated Press.
Giuliani, when asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation” why he did not first turn to U.S. law enforcement agencies if he had concerns about the Bidens, put the onus on unnamed Ukrainian sources who Giuliani said turned to him, and were “afraid” to reach out to what they perceived as an unreceptive FBI.
Trump's former Homeland Security adviser, Tom Bossert, appearing on ABC, raised concerns about Giuliani's influence over Trump, saying the former New York City mayor was peddling "debunked" conspiracy theories to Trump about the alleged influence Ukraine, not Russia, had over the 2016 election.
“At this point I am deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president,” Bossert said of Giuliani. “It sticks in [Trump's] mind when he hears it over and over again.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said Trump should have the ability to know the identity of the whistleblower and the unnamed White House officials cited in the complaint.
“Every American deserves the right to confront their accuser,” Graham said.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Queens), appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” defended the call for an impeachment inquiry, saying Congress has "a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on the executive branch.”