Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) issued a statement Tuesday defending a so-called “whistleblower complaint” after the transcript of a phone call between President Trump and the leader of Ukraine invalidated the anonymous bureaucrat’s characterization of the conversation.
Last week, the House Intelligence Committee released the complaint — comprised of secondhand information and several inaccuracies — claiming that President Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into the business dealings of Hunter Biden, the beleaguered son of former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden. The former vice president forced out former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin amid a probe into Burisma Holdings, which was paying Biden a $50,000 monthly as a board member. Biden even bragged last year that he had threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid unless the prosecutor was terminated.
“This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality,” Grassley said in a statement.
NEW: Sen. Grassley statement on whistleblower:
“This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected … No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first." pic.twitter.com/rw5cFZzJlG
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) October 1, 2019
He appeared to dismiss concerns that this particular complaint was filed months — or even weeks — after the intelligence community quietly eliminated requirements for whistleblowers to have direct — not secondhand — knowledge of wrongdoing. “Complaints based on second-hand information should not be rejected out of hand, but they do require additional leg work to get all the facts and evaluate the claim’s credibility,” Grassley continued. He did not address the fact that direct evidence — namely, the call transcript — has already been revealed and undermined the bureaucrat’s credibility.
The Iowa Republican, who chairs the influential Senate Finance Committee, warned lawmakers and members of the media from engaging in “[u]ninformed speculation,” calling it “counterproductive” to the country’s interests.
Grassley’s statement demonstrates a clear break with President Trump and congressional Republicans, who have dismissed the complaint as nothing more than “hearsay.”
“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.” Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!” the president tweeted on Monday.
Appearing Sunday on CBS News’ Face the Nation, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) repeatedly dismissed the complaint as “all hearsay.”
“This seems to me like a political setup. It’s all hearsay. You can’t get a parking ticket conviction based on hearsay. The whistleblower didn’t hear the phone call,” the South Carolina Republican stated, before adding that he has “zero problems” with the Trump-Zelensky call.
On Thursday, the White House released a transcript of the conversation to show President Trump did not pressure Zelensky, while later that day, the two world leaders appeared together at a joint press conference in which they denied any coercion occurred.
Nonetheless, the complaint prompted House Democrats to launch a formal impeachment inquiry and issue subpoenas for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Guiliani.
“The president of the United States used taxpayer dollars to shake down the leader of another country for his own political gain,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) charged during a Friday appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Asked for a timeline for the impeachment investigation, Pelosi demurred, saying in response: “The facts will lead us.”
Congressional Republican leaders such as Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) appear none-too-worried about the impeachment probe, suggesting it could aid the party in the 2020 election.
“The left has officially lost their minds — they are so fixated on their imaginary impeachment that they are getting nothing else done,” McCarthy (R-CA) told Breitbart News. “266 days in power and what have Nancy Pelosi and the Socialist Democrats accomplished? Absolutely nothing.”
“America is too great to be led by a vision so small — I’m 100 percent confident Democrats obsession with impeachment will backfire on them in 2020,” he added.