President Donald Trump on Monday repeated his sentiment that he wants to meet the anonymous whistleblower at the heart of the Ukraine phone call controversy that’s led to an impeachment inquiry.
Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Monday that he’s “trying to find out about” the whistleblower, when asked about potential subpoenas for documents and testimony in the House Democrats’ rapidly increasing inquiry.
“The whistleblower reported a totally different statement…he made it sound terrible,” the president said after a swearing-in ceremony for new Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia.
Trump’s remarks came hours before three House committees issued a subpoena to Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, seeking documents related to the president’s controversial phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July. During the call, Trump asks Zelensky for “a favor” to investigate 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukranian gas company.
“Pursuant to the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry, we are hereby transmitting a subpoena that compels you to produce the documents set forth in the accompanying schedule by October 15, 2019,” wrote Congressmen Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, chair of the House Oversight Committee in a letter to Giuliani.
“Our inquiry includes an investigation of credible allegations that you acted as an agent of the President in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the Office of the President,” the three chairmen said. “A growing public record, including your own statements, indicates that the President, You, and others appeared to have pressed the Ukranian government to pursue two politically-motivated investigations.”
The chairmen also sent letters requesting documents from three of Giuliani’s business partners, Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, and Semyon “Sam” Kislin.
On Saturday, lawyers for the whistleblower sent a letter to Joseph Maguire, the acting Director of National Intelligence, detailing serious concerns for the whistleblower’s safety as the president went on a rage on Twitter earlier in the day.
“The purpose of this letter is to formally notify you of serious concerns we have regarding our client’s personal safety,” the letter said, as Trump’s comments give them several reasons to express their “heightened” concerns.
“The events of the past week have heightened our concerns that our client’s identity will be disclosed publicly and that, as a result, our client will be put in harm’s way,” the letter reads.
The letter also thanked Maguire’s office for its “support thus far to activate appropriate resources to ensure their safety.” The whistleblower’s lawyers didn’t specify what those resources are.
The whistleblower’s legal team also denied a report on CBS’ 60 Minutes Sunday night that said the whistleblower is under federal protection. A federal law, known as the Whistleblower Protection Act, protects federal whistleblowers who work for the government from any workplace retaliation.
60 Minutes tweeted late Sunday that it “stands by its sources and reporting on the whistleblower.”
The president’s comments Monday about the whistleblower also came a day after a tweetstorm demanding to meet the whistleblower and attempts to plant seeds of doubt.
Trump tweeted Sunday that, “Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called ‘Whistleblower,’ represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way.”
The president also tweeted after taking shots at House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff that there would be “big consequences” for anybody who helped provide the whistleblower with information.
“I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION, but also the person who illegally gave this information, which was largely incorrect, to the ‘Whistleblower,'” he said. “Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!”