Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY
Published 7: 29 p.m. ET Oct. 9, 2019 | Updated 11: 19 a.m. ET Oct. 10, 2019
Whistleblowers have been at time essential and detrimental to a country’s democracy, but what makes them different than a leaker? We explain.
Just the FAQs, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – The legal team representing the whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump released a statement Wednesday saying their client had an “apolitical” career and never “worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign, or party.”
Lawyers Mark Zaid and Andrew Bakaj, whose firm Compass Rose Legal Group is representing the whistleblower, released the statement, saying that in “light of the ongoing efforts to mischaracterize whistleblower #1’s alleged ‘bias’ in order to detract from the substance of the complaint, we will attempt to clarify some facts.”
1/WHISTLEBLOWER NEWS ALERT THREAD ON ALLEGED “BIAS”:
In light of the ongoing efforts to mischaracterize whistleblower #1’s alleged “bias” in order to detract from the substance of the complaint, we will attempt to clarify some facts.
— Mark S. Zaid (@MarkSZaidEsq) October 9, 2019
“First, our client has never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign, or party,” the legal team begins. “Our client has spent their entire government career in apolitical, civil servant positions in the Executive Branch.”
They continue to elaborate that their client, in their respective positions, came “into contact with presidential candidates from both parties in their roles as elected officials —not as candidates.”
“The whistleblower voluntarily provided relevant career information to the IC IG in order to facilitate an assessment of the credibility of the complaint,” the lawyer’s elaborated, explaining that, “as a result, the IC IG concluded — as is well known — that the complaint was both urgent and credible.”
“Finally, the whistleblower is not the story. To date, virtually every substantive allegation has been confirmed by other sources. For that reason the identity of the whistleblower is irrelevant,” the legal team concluded.
Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, received thewhistleblower’s complaint Aug. 12, whichclaims the president was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election.” He spent two weeks reviewing it, finding the complaint appeared credible on Aug. 26.
According to a summary of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky released by the White House, Trump asked Zelensky to look into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
However, the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, prevented Atkinson from passing along the complaint to Congress within a week, as is typically required for national-security whistleblower complaints. Maguire consulted with the White House and Justice Department in opting for the delay, he told the House intelligence panel Sept. 26, the day after a summary of the call was released and the complaint was provided to the committee.
Maguire said he thought the complaint might be protected by executive privilege. The Justice Department ruled that the complaint didn’t qualify as an “urgent concern” about “a serious or flagrant problem” requiring notification of Congress because the target – Trump – isn’t a member of the intelligence community.
Contributing: Nicholas Wu, Bart Jansen
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