An attorney for the whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump denied that his client sought help from a member of Congress to write the complaint, according to a report.
“The Whistleblower drafted the Complaint entirely on their own. Legal counsel Andrew Bakaj provided guidance on process but was not involved in the drafting of the document and did not review it in advance,” lawyer Mark Zaid told ABC News.
“In fact, none of the legal team saw the Complaint until it was publicly released by Congress. To be unequivocally clear, no Member or congressional staff had any input into or reviewed the Complaint before it was submitted to the Intelligence Community Inspector General,” he added.
The whistleblower contacted the House Intelligence Committee before raising concerns about alleged wrongdoing with the intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson, according to a spokesman for Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee chairman.
“Like other whistleblowers have done before and since under Republican and Democratic-controlled Committees, the whistleblower contacted the Committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the Intelligence Community,” spokesman Patrick Boland said in a statement, the news outlet reported.“Consistent with the Committee’s longstanding procedures, Committee staff appropriately advised the whistleblower to contact an Inspector General and to seek legal counsel.”
The New York Times reported this week that Schiff got a heads-up on the whistleblower’s allegations about the president’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky days before the complaint was filed.
In the call, Trump asked Zelensky to probe the son of political rival Joe Biden — a move that has been alleged to be a quid pro quo to keep hundreds of millions of dollars in US military aid flowing to Ukraine.
Concerned with how his claims were being handled in the CIA, the whistleblower approached an aide to Schiff, the report said. The aide, following the panel’s procedures, then suggested the whistleblower find a lawyer to advise him on how to file a complaint.
Trump, asked about the development from the Times during a White House press conference, said it was a “scandal” and suggested that Schiff wrote the complaint himself.
“I think this is a scandal, and I think he wrote it,” Trump told reporters.
The whistleblower, identified as a CIA officer, first had a colleague contact the agency’s top lawyer, with his worries about the July 25 phone call, the Times reported.