The anonymous member of the intelligence community who filed the whistleblower complaint against President Trump that has resulted in a formal impeachment probe against him reportedly had a professional relationship with one of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
Three people familiar with the situation said the Intelligence Community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, revealed during closed-door interviews with Republicans that the whistleblower, reportedly a registered Democrat, had a prior work relationship with one of the current Democratic presidential contenders, according to a report in the Washington Examiner published Tuesday.
“What [Atkinson] said was that the whistleblower self-disclosed that he was a registered Democrat and that he had a prior working relationship with a current 2020 Democratic presidential candidate,” one of the sources said.
Atkinson previously wrote in a letter dated August 26 that the whistleblower had “some indicia of an arguable political bias … in favor of a rival political candidate.”
However, Atkinson appeared to regard those concerns as relatively minor, concluding that “such evidence did not change my determination that the complaint relating to the urgent concern ‘appears credible'” and should be shared with members of Congress.
The Justice Department clashed with inspector general’s determination, however, saying in an Office of Legal Counsel opinion that the complaint was not “urgent” because it did not relate to “the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity,”and therefore did not have to be released to the congressional intelligence committees.
The whistleblower’s complaint deals with a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump asked Zelensky to help investigate former vice president Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, over allegations that the former vice president used his position to help a Ukrainian energy company avoid a corruption probe soon after Hunter was appointed to its board of directors.
Trump has admitted to temporarily withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine intended to protect against Russian aggression, but said he did so because he wished other countries to contribute militarily and financially to Ukraine as well.
House Democrats launched a formal impeachment probe last month against Trump over the Ukraine allegations.