Whistleblower tentatively agrees to testify, attorneys say

Posted at 9:26 PM, Sep 25, 2019

The anonymous whistleblower who filed a complaint with the intelligence community inspector general , which includes allegations about President Donald Trump's conduct, has tentatively agreed to meet with congressional lawmakers, according to correspondence obtained by CNN.

The meeting could take place on the condition that acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire approves appropriate security clearances for the individual's legal counsel so that they can accompany their client, the correspondence showed.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff wrote a letter to Maguire making the request Wednesday after the whistleblower's lawyers agreed to meet with lawmakers if that condition is met and requested assistance in expediting approval from the acting DNI.

CNN reported Tuesday that the whistleblower's legal counsel "wrote to the Acting Director of National Intelligence to request specific guidance as to the appropriate security practices to permit a meeting, if needed, with the Members of the Intelligence Oversight Committees."

"This is a reasonable request that the Committee strongly supports and expects your office to fulfill immediately," Schiff wrote.

Schiff's letter comes after the whistleblower's legal counsel wrote to the committee Wednesday reiterating the conditions of a possible meeting between lawmakers and their client.

"We have reaffirmed our client's request for direction by correspondence to Acting Director Maguire, a copy of which is included as an enclosure. Furthermore, we have requested for the Acting Director to process and grant myself, I. Charles McCullough, III, and Mark S. Zaid the appropriate security clearances so that legal counsel may be in attendance at any meetings with our client. I am sure you can understand that it is imperative that a whistleblower, especially one caught up in such a high profile matter involving the President, have experienced legal counsel by their side. Your cooperation in ensuring this occurs would help facilitate a future meeting or testimony," the letter said.

The whistleblower will not appear before lawmakers on Thursday, nor are they currently scheduled to appear before Congress, a source familiar with the situation told CNN.

The source said that the process is underway to ensure the lawyers have access, if needed, to the relevant classified information. Lawmakers have not been told the identity of the whistleblower or where the complainant works in the government.

The whistleblower's complaint -- which was hand-delivered to Capitol Hill on Wednesday for lawmakers to review -- deals, at least in part, with a phone call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25. A transcript of the conversation released by the White House shows Trump repeatedly pushed Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.

Even before the whistleblower complaint was made available to lawmakers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday declared Trump had betrayed his oath of office and announced she was opening a formal impeachment inquiry into the President.

Trump has downplayed the significance of the complaint, claiming the whistleblower is partisan and his conversations with foreign leaders have been "appropriate."

Speaking to CNN Wednesday, Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, said the whistleblower complaint points to "further evidence to seek" including "other witnesses to find, and documents as well as witnesses who would corroborate what he or she is complaining is an urgent and credible concern."

Swalwell described the complaint as a "five-alarm concern," echoing strong rhetoric from other Democratic lawmakers who viewed the document Wednesday.

While most lawmakers declined to comment on the complaint Wednesday, some Republicans did push back on the way Democrats were framing the document.

Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah told CNN after viewing the complaint that he has "no concerns" and that "there's nothing in there that changes the way I felt" earlier in the day when he had expressed support for Trump's accounting of events.

Schiff's letter to Maguire comes the same day the acting DNI director rebuked a Washington Post report stating that he threatened to resign if the White House tried to restrict his testimony before Congress.

"I have never quit anything in my life, and I am not going to start now," he said of the report. "I am committed to leading the Intelligence Community to address the diverse and complex threats facing our nation."