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2nd Whistleblower Comes Forward About Trump's Ukraine Call


Another in Culver City, Calif. - a second whistleblower with firsthand knowledge has come forward as President Trump's impeachment crisis deepens. We're learning this from Mark Zaid, one of the lawyers who represent the first whistleblower. He also confirmed to NPR that the second whistleblower has spoken with the intelligence community's inspector general but has not filed a complaint. All of this, of course, relates to a July phone call during which President Trump tried to get Ukraine to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden. And let's turn now to NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe to talk about all of this. Good morning, Ayesha.


GREENE: OK, start with what we know at this point about this second person coming forward.

RASCOE: Well, the main thing that we know is that this person has been described as an intelligence official. We don't know much else, other than the fact that this person is supposed to have firsthand knowledge about some of these allegations against the president. There is kind of another wrinkle in this news because one of the lawyers representing that first whistleblower tweeted that the law firm representing the first whistleblower is also representing multiple whistleblowers in connection to that complaint. Now, it's not clear whether that means just the two whistleblowers that we know about or whether that means more than two. But - so that's the other kind of wrinkle in this. But we know that there are at least two whistleblowers, and that is really providing more momentum for this impeachment inquiry.

GREENE: OK. Do we know exactly what the second whistleblower is alleging and if it's anything new that we hadn't already been talking about?

RASCOE: So they're saying that the second person is corroborating some of the allegations from that first complaint. And so - but we don't know specifically what that is. But it is significant because president and his supporter - President Trump and his supporters have attacked the first whistleblower's account as just hearsay, but this person is supposed to have firsthand knowledge. There hasn't been a separate complaint filed, but the person did talk to the inspector general of the intelligence community, and the lawyers representing this whistleblower say that's enough to provide them with legal protection from retaliation.

GREENE: So far, we have not exactly seen many Republicans come out against the president as this impeachment inquiry has begun. Is - does that seem to be changing at all with this new news?

RASCOE: No. Most Republicans are defending President Trump and arguing that the president raised legitimate concerns during that July call with Ukraine's president. Senator Ron Johnson last week had raised some eyebrows because he said that he had heard, before all of this became public, that Trump might be holding up aid to Ukraine over this desire for an investigation from Ukraine about the 2016 election. He said that Trump denied this to him. But on "Meet The Press" yesterday, Johnson wouldn't go into the details about that. But he did attack the press and argued that Trump had been treated unfairly. This is what Johnson had to say.


RON JOHNSON: There is potential interference in the 2016 campaign...

CHUCK TODD: Let me ask you this.

JOHNSON: ...That's what Trump wants to get to the bottom of, but the press doesn't want to.

TODD: Ambassador...

JOHNSON: The people who wrote this article are being pilloried. I'm being called a conspiracy theorist because the press is horribly biased.

RASCOE: So we should be clear that the U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. And there's no evidence behind these theories that Ukraine was somehow involved with the DNC server or anything like that.

GREENE: But the senator's saying there that maybe the press should be looking into those things and is paying too much attention to what Democrats have raised in terms of impeachment. This is also becoming a big part of the campaign trail, with both the president's campaign and also Joe Biden's campaign taking their arguments about this whole scandal to voters.

RASCOE: Yeah. So there are ads out with both camps attacking each other. People watching the NFL on Sunday would have heard from President Trump's campaign, basically arguing that Biden promised Ukraine money in exchange for firing this prosecutor who was investigating his son. We know that's not true. There was international agreement that this prosecutor should be removed, and that's what Biden was doing. And - but Biden is also out with some ads calling Trump unhinged and saying that he's the Democrat that Trump is really worried about and that's why Trump is making all of these allegations against him and his family.

GREENE: NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe helping us understand all of this. Ayesha, thanks a lot.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Morning Edition
Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.