The White House:
President Trump said “a whistleblower should be protected if the whistleblower’s legitimate.”
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump dismissed concerns Wednesday – including from some GOP lawmakers – about the need to shield a whistleblower at the center of allegations that he pressured officials in Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.
Asked about those concerns, Trump responded: “I don’t care.”
“He either got it totally wrong, made it up, or the person giving the information to the whistleblower was dishonest,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “And this country has to find out who that person was, because that person is a spy, in my opinion.”
Speaking alongside the president of Finland, Trump added that “a whistleblower should be protected if the whistleblower’s legitimate.”
Trump has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of the unnamed whistleblower in the intelligence community who filed an Aug. 12 complaint about the president’s phone call with Ukraine’s president.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who launched an impeachment inquiry of Trump last week, has said she was alarmed at the whistleblower’s report and a summary of a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that has been made public.
On the call, Trump repeatedly pressed Zelensky to investigate Biden, the 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner, and his son, Hunter, who once had business interests in Ukraine. During the time of the conversation, the White House was holding up a military aid package Congress had approved for Ukraine.
Trump returned to the whistleblower during a combative press conference in the East Room of the White House later Wednesday, saying he had respect for people calling attention to government abuses but only when those claims are “real.”
“You look at the whistleblower statement, and it’s vicious. Vicious,” Trump repeated. “And that whistleblower, there’s no question in my mind that some bad things have gone on, and I think we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
The whistleblower has accused Trump of abusing the power of his office to try to discredit a political rival. Trump has said there was nothing improper about the phone call and has insisted there was no “quid pro quo” over the military aid.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a co-founder of the Senate Whistleblower Caucus, said on Tuesday that the whistleblower deserves to be heard and protected. “We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality,” Grassley said.
Trump said that the whistleblower’s characterization of his call with the Ukrainian president was “erroneous.”
“In other words, he either got it totally wrong, made it up, or the person giving the information to the whistleblower was dishonest,” the president said.
Whistleblowers have been at time essential and detrimental to a country’s democracy, but what makes them different than a leaker? We explain.
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Trump also renewed his attacks on House Democrats, including Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. who chairs the House Intelligence Committee. Trump said Schiff couldn’t carry Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “blank strap,” an apparent reference to a “jockstrap.”
Earlier, Trump used a series of tweets to condemn the impeachment inquiry as damaging to the country. He challenged Pelosi’s stated desire to work on trade and drug prices, saying Democrats are instead obsessed with impeachment.
Pelosi is “incapable” of working on other issues, the president wrote. “It is just camouflage for trying to win an election through impeachment. The Do Nothing Democrats are stuck in mud!”
Unleashing an unusual show of anger, President Donald Trump railed against former Vice President Joe Biden, his son, the media and the World Trade Organization at a joint press conference in the White House East Room with Finland’s president. (Oct. 2)
In a tweet that preceded his meeting with the president of Finland, Trump used a barnyard epithet in condemning the impeachment drive. The president described Democrats as wasting their time on “bullshit” despite his election in 2016.
He added: “Get a better candidate this time, you’ll need it!”
House Democrats have questioned the president’s past attacks on the whistleblower.
“I hope that you understand, and I suspect that you do, the seriousness of the president of the United States saying he wants to interview that person,” Pelosi said.
“The president probably doesn’t realize how dangerous his statements are when he says he wants to expose who the whistleblower is and those who may have given the whistleblower that information,” she added.
Contributing: Bart Jansen, Maureen Groppe
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